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Full text of "Under two flags"

UNDER TWO FLAGS 



A NOVEL 



BY 

OUIDA 

AUTHOR OF 'STRATHMORE ' * CHANDOS ' 'tRICOTEIN' 
* TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES ' ETC. 




A NEW IMPRESSION 



LONDON 
CHATTO & WINDUS 

1912 



PRINTKD BY 

SrOTTISWOODE AND CO. liTD., C0LCHE8TKH 

LONDON AND ETON 



AVIS AU LECTEUR 

This Story was originally written for a military periodical. 
It has been fortunate enough to receive much commen- 
dation from military men, and for them it is now 
specially issued in its present form. For the general 
public it may be as well to add that, where translations 
are appended to the French phrases, those translations 
usually follow the idiomatic and particular meaning 
attached to those expressions in the argot of the Army 
of Algeria, and not the correct or literal one given to 
such words or sentences in ordinary grammatical 

parlance. 

OUIDA. 






V 



1^ 



/2 



CONTENTS 



CBArraR 

I. 'BEAUTY OF THE BRIGADES' 

n. THE LOOSE BOX, AND THE TABAGIB . 

III. THE SOLDIERS' BLUE RIBBON 

IV. LOVE A LA MODE .... 

V. UNDER THE KEEPER'S TREE . 

VI. THE END OF A RINGING RUN , 

VII. AFTER A RICHMOND DINNER . 

VIII. A STAG HUNT AU CLAIR DB LA LUNB 

IX. THE PAINTED BIT. . 

X. ' PETITE REINE ' , . , . 

XI. FOR A woman's SAKE . 

XII. THE king's LAST SERVICE 

XIII. IN THE GAF^ OF THE CHASSEURS . 

XIV. ' DE PROFUNDIS ' BEFORE ' PLUNGING ' 

XV. 'l'amie DU DRAPEAU' . 

XVI. CIGARETTE EN BACCHANTE 

XVII. UNDER THE HOUSES OF HAIR 

XVIII. CIGARETTE EN BIENFAITRICE 

XIX. THE IVORY SQUADRONS . 

XX. CIGARETTE EN CONSEIL ET CACHETTE 

XXI. CIGARETTE EN CONDOTTIERA 

XXII. THE MISTRESS OF THE WHITE KING . 

XXni. THE LITTLE LEOPARD OF FRANCE . 

XXTV. 'MILADI AUX BEAUX YEUX BLEUS ' . 

XX7. ' LE BON ZIG ' . . . 



FAcn 

1 

14 

25 

46 

59 

68 

78 

99 

112 

123 

142 

162 

183 

192 

199 

218 

234 

256 

276 

286 

810 

822 

842 

865 

884 



2b2652 



Vlll 



CONTENTS 



CHU>TER 

XXVI. ZARAELA ....... 

XXVn. THE LOVE OF THE AMAZON . . . i 

XXVin. THE LEATHERN ZACKRI8T ...» 

XXrX. BY THE BIVOUAC FIKE 

XXX. SEUL AU MONDE ..... 

XXXI. ' JE VOUS ACHETE VOTRE VIE ' . , . 

XXXII. ' ■'.T.NETIA ' . .... , , 

XXXin. THE GIFT OF THE CROSS . . . . 

XXXrV. THE DESERT HAWK AND THE PARADISE BIRD 

XXXV. ORDEAL BY FIRB 

XXXVI. THE VENOEANOK OF THE LITTLE ONB , 

XXXVn. IN THE MIDST OF HER AEilY , . . 

THE LAST AT RK3T t » t * i s 



PaOE 

897 
410 
425 
485 
454 
174 
485 
610 
628 
645 
566 
598 
607 



UNDER TWO FLAGS 

CHAPTER I 

* BEAUTY OF THE BRIGADES ' 

' I don't say but what he's difficult to please with his Tops,' 
said Mr. Rake, factotum to the Hon. Bertie Cecil, of the 1st 
Life Guards, with that article of hunting toggery suspended 
in his right hand as he paused, before going upstairs, to deliver 
his opinions with characteristic weight and vivacity to the 
stud-groom — ' he is uncommon particular about 'em ; and if 
his leathers ain't as white as snow he'll never touch 'em, tho' 
as soon as the pack come nigh him at Royallieu, the leathers 
might just as well never have been cleaned, them hounds 
jump about him so ; old Champion's at his saddle before you 
can say Davy Jones. Tops are trials, I ain't denying that, 
specially when you've jacks, and moccasins, and moor boots, 
and Russia-leather crickets, and turf hacks and Hythe boots, 
and waterproofs, and all manner of varnish things for dress, 
that none of the boys will do right unless you look after 'em 
yourself. But is it likely that he should know what a worry 
a Top's complexion is, and how hard it is to come right with 
all the Fast Brown polishing in the world ? How should h& 
guess what a piece of work it is to get 'em all of a colour, and 
how like they are to come mottled, and how a'most sure 
they'll ten to one go off dark just as they're growing yellow, 
and put you to shame, let you do what you will to make 'em 
cut a shine over the country ? How should M know ? / 
don't complain of that ; bless you, he never thinks. It's " do 

B 



8 un'DTO two flags 

bhia, Halre/' " do fhat/'- a-hd he never remember 't isn't done 
by magic. But he's a true gentleman, Mr. Cecil ; never 
grudge a guinea, or a fiver to you ; never out of temper 
neither, always have a kind word for you if you want — 
thoro'brod every inch of him; see him bring down a 
rockctter, or lift his horse over the Broad Water ! He's 
\/ a gentleman— not like your snobs that have nothing sound 
about 'em but their cash, and swept out their shops before 
they bought their fine feathers 1— and I'll be d— d if I care 
what I do for him.' 

With which peroration to his born enemy the stud-groom, 
with whom he waged a perpetual and most lively feud, 
Rake flourished the tops that had been under discussion, and 
tiiumphant, as he invariably was, ran up the back stairs of 
his master's lodgmgs in Piccadilly, opposite the Green Park, 
and with a rap on the panels entered his master's bedroom. 
A Guardsman at home is always, if anything, rather more 
luxuriously accommodated than a young Duchess, and Bertie 
Cecil was never behind his fellows in anything ; besides, he 
was one of the cracks of the Household, and women sent him 

rf retty things enough to fill the Palais Royal. The dressing- 
table was littered w4th Bohemian glass and gold-stoppered 
k"'/ bottles, and all the perfumes of Araby represented by Brei- 
denbach and Rimmel. The dressing-case was of silver, with 
the name studded on the lid in turquoises ; the brushes, boot- 
jacks, boot-trees, whip-stands, were of ivory and tortoiseshell ; 
a couple of tiger-skins were on the hearth with a retriever and 
blue greyhound in possession ; above the mantelpiece were 
crossed swords in all the varieties of gilt, gold, silver, ivory, 
aluminium, chiselled and embossed hilts ; and on the walls 
were a few perfect French pictures, with the portraits of a 
greyhound drawn by Tj.mdseer, of a steeplechaser by Harry 
Hall, one or two of Herring's hunters, and two or three fair 
women in crayons. The hangings of the room were silken 
and rose-coloured, and a delicious confusion prevailed through 
it pell-mell - box-Rpurs,hunting-stirrups, cartridge-cases, curb- 
chains, muzzle-loaders, hunting-flasks, and white gauntlets 
being mixed up with Paris novels, pink notes, point-lace ties, 
bracelets, and bouquets to be dispatched to various destina- 
tions, and velvet and silk bags for bank-not o, cigars, or 
vosuviuns, embroidered by feminine fingers and as useless as 

[those pretty fingers themselves. On the softest of sofas, hali 



'BEAUTY OF THE BRIGADES' 3 

dressed, and having half an hour before plashed like a water- 
dog out of the bath, as big as a small pond, in the dressing- 
chamber beyond, was the Hon, Bertie himself, second son of 
Viscount Royallieu, known generally in the Brigades aa 
* Beauty.' The appellative, gained at Eton, was in no way 
undeserved. When the smoke cleared away that was circling 
round him out of a great meerschaum-bowl, it showed a face*l 
of as much delicacy and brilliancy as a woman's, handsome, ^ 
thoro'bred, languid, nonchalant, with a certain latent reck- 
lessness under the impassive calm of habit, and a singular /■ 
softness given to the large, dark hazel eyes by the unusual '\^ 
length of the lashes over them. His features were exceedingly ^ 
fair, fair as the fairest girl's; his hair was of the softest, <^^ 
silkiest, brightest chestnut ; his mouth very beautifully shaped ; ^' 
on the whole, with a certain gentle, mournful love-me look ?j^' 
that his eyes had with them, it was no wonder that great -^v 
ladies and gay lionnes alike gave him the palm as the hand-*^ w 
somest man in all the Household Regiments—not evenS^ 
excepting that splendid golden-haired Colossus, his oldest hJ^ 
friend and closest comrade, known as ' the Seraph.' , J 

He looked at the new tops that Rake swung in his hand, ^'^ 
and shook his head. f\ 

'Better, Rake; but not right yet. Can't you get that-^ 
tawny colour in the tiger's skin there ? You go so much to '^ » 
brown.' ^.'^ 

Rake shook his head in turn, as he set down the incorri- L> 
gible tops beside six pairs of their fellows, and six times six - j^ 
of every other sort of boots that the covert side, the heather, '^ 
the flat, or the ' sweet shady side of Pall Mall ' ever knew. 

* Do my best, sir ; but Polish don't come nigh Nature, Mr. 
Cecil.' 

* Goes beyond it, the ladies say ; and to do them justice, 
they favour it much the most,' laughed Cecil to himself, 
floating fresh clouds of Turkish about him. ' Willon up ? ' 

* Yes, sir. Come in this minute for orders.' 
< How'd Forest King stand the train ? ' 

* Bright as a bird, sir ; /le never mind nothing. Mother 0' 
Pearl she worretted a little, he says ; she always do, along of 
the engine noise ; but the King walked in and out just as if 
the stations were his own stable-yard.' 

* He gave them gruel and chilled water after the shaking 
before he let them go to their corn ? ' 

b2 



4 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

' He says he did, sir.' 

Rake would by no means take upon himgelf to warrant the 
veracity of his sworn foe, the stud-groom ; unremitting feud 
was between them ; Rake considered that he knew more about 
horses than any other man Ihing, and the other functionary 
proportionately resented back his knowledge and his inter- 
ference, as utterly out of place in a body- servant. 

' Tell him I'll look in at the stable after duty and see the 
screws are all right ; and that he's to be ready to go down 
with thera by my train to-morrow — noon, you know. Send 
that note there, and the bracelets, to St. John's Wood : and 
that white bouquet to Mrs. Delamaine. Bid Willon get some 
Banbury bits; I prefer the revolving mouths, and some of 
Wood's double mouths and Nelson gags ; we want new ones. 
Mind that lever-snap breechloader comes home in time. Look 
in at the Commission stables, and if you see a likely black 
charger as good as Black Douglas, tell me. W^rite about the 
stud fox-terrier, and buy the blue Dandie Dinmont ; Lady 
Guinevere wants him. I'll take him down with me. But 
first put me into harness. Rake ; it's getting late.' 

Murmuring which multiplicity of directions, for Rake to 
catch as he could, in the softest and sleepiest of tones, Bertie 
Cecil drank a glass of Cura9oa, put his tall, lithe limbs indo- 
lently off his sofa, and surrendered himself to the martyrdom 
of cuirass and gorget, standing six feet one without his spurred 
jacks, but light-built and full of grace as a deer, or his weight 
would not have been what it was in gentleman-rider races 
from the Hunt steeplechase at La Marche to the Grand 
National in the Shires. 

• As if Parhament couldn't meet without dragging us 
through the dust ! The idiots write about " the swells in the 
-Guards," as if we had all fim and no work, and knew nothing 
of the rough of the Service. I should like to learn what they 
! call sitting motionless in your saddle through half a day, 
while a London mob goes mad round you, and lost dogs snap 
at your charger's nose, and dirty Uttle beggars squeeze against 
your legs, and the sun broils you, or the fog soaks you, and 
you sit sentinel over a ginger-bread coach till you're deaf 
with the noise, and blind with the dust, and sick with the 
crowd, and half dead for want of sodas-and-brandies, and 
from going a whole morning without one cigarette! not to 
niention the inevitable apple-woman who invariably entangles 



» BEAUTY OF THE BRIGADES' 5 

herself between your horse's legs, and the certainty of yoi:^: 
riding down somebody and having a summons about it the 
next day I If all that isn't the rough of the Service, I should 
like to know what is. Why, the hottest day in the batteries^ 
or the sharpest rush into Ghoorkahs or Bhoteahs, would be 
light work compared 1 ' murmured Cecil with the most plain- 
tive pity for the hardships of life in the Household, while 
Rake, with the rapid proficiency of long habit, braced and 
buckled and buttoned, knotted the sash v/ith the knack of 
professional genius, girt on the brightest of all glittering 
polished silver steel * Cut-and-Thrusts,' with its rich gilt 
mountings, and .contemplated with flattering self-complacency 
leathers white as snow, jacks brilliant as black varnish could 
make them, and silver spurs of glittering radiance, until his 
master stood full harnessed, at length, as gallant a Life 
Guardsman as ever did duty at the Palace by making love to 
the handsomest lady-in-waiting. 

* To sit wedged in with one's troop for five hours, and in 
a drizzle too ! Houses oughtn't to meet until the day's fine ; 
I'm sure they are in no hurry,' said Cecil to himself, as he 
pocketed a dainty, filmy handkerchief, all perfume, point, 
and embroidery, with the interlaced B, C, and the crest on 
the corner, while he looked hopelessly out of the window. 
He was perfectly happy, drenched to the skin on the moors 
after a royal, or in a fast thing with the Melton men from 
Thorpe Trussels to Eanksborough ; but three drops of rain 
when on duty were a totally different matter, to be resented 
with any amount of dajidy'^ lamentations, and epicurean 
diatribes. 

' Ah, young one, how are you ? Is the day very bad ? ' he 
asked with languid wistfulness as the door opened. 

But indifi.'erent and weary — on account of the weather — as 
the tone was, his eyes rested with a kindly, cordial light on 
the new-comer, a young fellow of scarcely twenty, like him- 
self in feature, though much smaller and slighter in build, a 
graceful boy enough, with no fault in his face, except a 
certain weakness in the mouth, just shadowed only, as yet, 
with down. 

A celebrity, the Zu-Zu, the last coryphee whom Bertie had 
translated from a sphere of garret bread-and-cheese to a 
sphere of vdlla, champagne and chicken (and v/ho, of course, *\J 
in proportion to the previous scarcity of her bread-and-chcese, 



ycsii^^ 



c>^V^''^^' 



6 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

grew immediately intolerant of any wine less than 905. the 
dozen), said that Cecil cared for nothing longer than a fort- 
night, unless it were his horse, Forest King. It was very 
ungrateful in the Zu-Zu, since he cared for her at the least a 
whole quarter, paying for his fidelity to the tune of a hundred 
a month ; and, also, it was not true, for besides Forest King, 
. V ha^loYajJ his young brother Berkeley — which how^ever she 
neither knew iior guessed. 

* Beastly ! ' replied that young gentlemen, in reference to 
the weather, which was indeed pretty tolerable for an Eng- 
lish morning in February. * I say, Bertie — are you in a 
hurry ? ' 

* The very deuce of a hurry, little one : why ? ' Bertie 
never was in a hurry, however, and he said this as lazily as 
possible, shaking the white horsehair over his helmet, and 
drawing in deep draughts of Turkish Latakia previous to 
parting with his pipe for the whole of four or five hours. 

* Because I am in a hole — no end of a hole — and I thought 
you'd help me,' murmured the boy, half penitently, half 
caressingly; he was very girlish in his face and his ways. 
On which confession, Bake retired into the bath-room ; he 
could hear just as well there, and a sense of decorum made 

j. him withdraw, though his presence would have been wholly 
' -^forgotten by them. In something the same spirit as the 
I French countess accounted for her employing her valet to 
[ bring her her chocolate in bed — * Est-ce que vous appelez 
cette chose-ld un homme?' — Bertie had on occasion, so 
wholly regarded servants as necessary furniture, that he had 
gone through a love scene, with that handsome coquette 
Lady Regalia, totally oblivious of the presence of the groom 
of the chambers, and the possibility of that person's appear- 
ance in the witness-box of the Divorce Court. It was in no 
way his passion that blinded him — he did not put the steam 
on like that, and never went in for any disturbing emotion,— 
I it was simply habit, and forgetfulness that those functionaries 
\\v'ere not born mute, deaf, and sightless. 

lie tossed some essence over his hands, and drew on his 
gauntlets. 

* What's up. Berk ? » 

The boy hung his head, and played a little uneasily with 
an ormolu terrior-pot, upsetting half the tobacco in it ; he 
was trained to big brother's nouchulant impenetrable school, 



» BEAUTY OF THE BRIGADES' 7 

and used to his brother's set, a cool, listless, reckless, thoro'- 
bred, and impassive set, whose first canon was that you must 
lose your last thousand in the world without giving a sign 
that you winced, and must win half a million without show- 
ing that you were gratified ; but he had something of girlish 
weakness in his nature, and a reserve in his temperament 
that was with difficulty conquered. 

Bertie looked at him, and laid his hand gently on the young 
one's shoulder. 

* Come, my boy, out with it 1 It's nothing very bad, I'll be 
bound ? ' 

' I want some more money ; a couple of ponies,' said the 
boy a Httle huskily ; he did not meet his brother's eyes, that 
were looking straight down on him. 

Cecil gave a long low whistle, and drew a meditative whiff 
from his meerschaum. 

* Tres che3:^ou're always wanting money. So am I. So 
is everybody. The normal state of man is to want money. 
Two ponies ! What's it for ? ' 

* I lost it at chicken-hazard last night. Poulteney lent it 
me, and I told him I would send it him in the morning. The 
ponies were gone before I thought of it, Bertie, and I haven't ,. 
a notion where to get them to pay him again.' 0|^^ 

* Heavy stakes, young one, for you,' murmured Cecil, while i^ 
his hand dropped from the boy's shoulder, and a shadow of 
gravity passed over his face ; money was very scarce with 
himself. Berkeley gave him a hurried appealing glance. He 
was used to shift all his anxieties on to his elder brother, 
and to be helped by him under any difficulty. Cecil never 
allotted two seconds' thought to his own embarrassments, 
but he would multiply them tenfold by taking other people's 
on him as well with an unremitting and thoughtless good- 
nature. 

* I couldn't help it,' pleaded the lad with coaxing and 
almost piteous apology. * I backed Grosvenor's play, and 
you know he's always the most wonderful luck in the world. 
I couldn't tell he'd go a crowner and have such cards as he 
had. How shall I get the money, Bertie ? I daren't ask the 
governor; and besides I told Poulteney he should have it 
this morning. What do you think if I sold the mare ? But 
then I couldn't sell her in a minute * 

Cecil laughed a little, but his eyes as they rested on the 



8 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

lad'a young, fair, womanish face were very gentle under the 
long shade of their lashes. 

' Sell the mare ! Nonsense I How should anybody live 
without a hack? I can pull you through, I dare say. Ah I 
by George, there's the quarters chiming. I shall be too late, 
as I live.' 

Not hurried still, however, by that near prospect, he 
sauntered to his dressing-table, took up one of the pretty 
velvet and gold-filigreed absurdities, and shook out all the 
bank-notes there were in it. There were fives and tens enough 
to count up 45Z. He reached over and caught up a five from 
a little heap lying loo^e on a novel of Du Terrail'Sjand tossed 
the whole across the room to the boy. 

' There you are, young one ! But don't borrow of any 
but your own people again, Berk. We don't do that. No, 
no 1 — no thanljs. Shut up all that. If ever you get in a hole, 
I'll take you out if I can. Good-bye — will you go to the 
Lords? Better not — nothing to see, and still less to hear. 
All stale. That's the only comfort for us — we are outside ! * 
he said, with something that almost approached hurry in the 
utterance, so great was his terror of anything approaching a 
scene, and so eager was he to escape his brother's gratitude. 
The boy had taken the notes with delighted thanks indeed, 
but with that tranquil and unprotesting readiness with which 
spoiled childishness or unhesitating selfishness accepts gifts 
and sacrifices from another's generosity, which have been so 
general that they have ceased to have magnitude. As his 
brother passed him, however, he caught his hand a second, 
and looked up with a mist before his eyes, and a flush half of 
shame, half of gratitude, on his face. 

* What a trump you are I — how good you are, Bertie I ' 

Cecil laughed and shrugged his shoulders. 

' First time I ever heard it, my dear boy,' be answered, 
as he lounged down the staircase, his chains clashing and 
jingling, while pressing his helmet on to his forehead and . 
pulling the chin scale over his moustaches, he sauntered out 
into the street where his charger was waiting. 

' The deuce I ' he thought, as he settled himself in his 
stirrups, while the raw morning wind tossed his white plume 
hither and thither. * I never remembered ! — I don't believe 
I've left myself money enough to take Willon and Rake 
and the cattle down to the Shires to-morrow. If I shouldn't 



•BEAUTY OF THE BRIGADES* 9 

have kept enough to take my own ticket with I — that would 
be no end of a sell. On my word I don't know how much 
there's left on the dressing-table. Well 1 I can't help it ; 
Poulteney had to be paid ; I can't have Berk's name show in 
anything that looks shady.' 

The 50/, had been the last remnant of a bill, done under 
great difficulties with a sagacious Jew, and Cecil had no more 
certainty of possessing any more money until next pay-day 
should come round than he had of possessing the moon ; lack of 
ready money, moreover, is a serious inconvenience when you 
belong to clubs where ' pounds and fives ' are the lowest 
points, and live with men who take the odds on most events 
in thousands ; but the thing was done ; he would not have 
undone it at the boy's loss if he could ; and Cecil, who never 
was worried by the loss of the most stupendous * crusher,' 
and who made it a rule never to think of disagreeable inevi- 
tabilities two minutes together, shook his charger's bridle and 
cantered down Piccadilly towards the barracks, while Black 
Douglas reared, curveted, made as if he would kick, and 
finally ended by * passaging ' down half the length of the 
road, to the prominent peril of all passers-by, and looking 
eminently glossy, handsome, stalwart, and foam-flecked, while 
he thus expressed his disapprobation of forming part of the 
escort from Palace to Parhament. 

' Home Secretary should see about it ; it's abominable I 
If we must come among them, they ought to be made a little 
odoriferous first. A couple of fire-engines now, playing on 
them continuously with rose-water and bouquet d'Ess, for an 
hour before we come up, might do a little good. I'll get 
some men to speak about it in the House ; call it " Bill for 
the Purifying of the Unwashed, and Prevention of their 
Suffocating Her Majesty's Brigades," ' murmured Cecil to 
the Earl of Broceliande, next him, as they sat down in their 
saddles with the rest of the * First Life,' in front of St. 
Stephen's, with a hazy fog steaming round them, and a 
London mob crushing against their chargers' flanks, while 
Black Douglas stood like a rock, though a butcher's tray was 
pressed against his withers, a mongrel was snapping at his 
hocks, and the inevitable apple-woman, of Cecil's prophetic 
horror, was wildly plmiging between his legs, as the hydra- 
headed rushed down in insane headlong haste to stare at, and 
crush on to, that superb body of Guards. 



10 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

* I would give a kingdom for a soda-aud-brandy. Bah ! 
ye gods 1 what a smell of fish and fustian I ' sighed Bertie, 
with a yawn of utter famine for want of something to drink 
and something to smoke, were it only a glass of brown sherry 
and a little papelito, while he glanced down at the snow-white 
and jet-black masterpieces of Rake's genius, all smirched, 
and splashed, and smeared. 

He had given fifty pounds away, and scarcely knew whether 
he should have enough to take his ticket next day into the 
Shires, and he owed fifty hundred, without having the 
shghtest grounds for supposing he should ever be able to pay 
it, and he cared no more about either of these things than he 
cared about the Zu-Zu's throwing the half-guinea peaches 
into the river after a Richmond dinner, in the effort to hit 
dragon-flies with them ; but to be half a day without a cigar- 
ette, and to have a disagreeable odour of apples and corduroys 
wafted up to him, was a calamity that made him insupport 
ably depressed and unhappy, 
j^ Well, why not ? It is the trifles of life that are its bores 
tT after all. Most men can meet ruin calmly, for instance, or 
} laugh when they lie in a ditch with their own knee-joint and 
their hunter's spine broken over the double post and rails : it 
is the mud that has choked up your horn just when you 
wanted to rally the pack ; it's the county member who 
catches you by the button in the lobby ; it's the whip who 
carries you off to a division just when you've sat down 
to your turbot ; it's the ten seconds by which you miss the 
train ; it's the dust that gets in your eyes as you go down to 
Epsom ; it's the pretty little rose note that went by accident 
to your house instead of your club, and raised a storm from 
Madame ; it's the dog that always will run mid into the 
birds ; it's the cook who always will season the white soup 

L wrong — it is these that are the bores of life, and that try the 
temper of your philosophy. 

"^An acquaintance of mine told me the other day of having 
lost heavy sums through a swindler, with as placid an in- 
difference as if he had lost a toothpick ; but he swore like a 
trooper because a thief had stolen the steel-mounted hoof of a 
dead pot hunter. 

' Insufferable ! ' murmured Cecil, hiding another yawn 
behind his gauntlet ; * the Line's nothing half so bad as this ; 
one day in a London mob boats a year's campaigning: what's 



BEAUTY OF THE BRIGADES' ii 

charging a pah to charging an oyster-stall, or a parapet of 
fascines to a bristling row of umbrellas ? ' 

Which question as to the relative hardships of the two Arms 
was a question of military interest never answered, as Cecil 
scattered the umbrellas right and left, and dashed from the 
Houses of Parliament full trot with the rest of the escort on 
the return to the Palace, the afternoon sun breaking out with 
a brightened gleam from the clouds, and flashing off the 
drawn swords, the streaming plumes, the glittering breast- 
plates, the gold embroideries, and the fretting chargers. 

But a mere sun-gleam just when the thing was over, and 
the escort was pacing back to Hyde Park barracks, could not 
console Cecil for fog, wind, mud, oyster-vendors, bad odours, 
and the uproar and riff-raff of the streets : specially when his 
throat was as dry as a limekiln, and his longing for the sight 
of a cheroot approaching desperation. Unlimited sodas, three 
pipes smoked silently over I)elphine Demirep's last novels a 
bath well dashed with eau de c6rogne7'aM ~some""gIasses of 
Anisette after the fatigue-duty of unharnessing, restored him 
a little ; but he was still weary and depressed into gentler 
languor than ever through all the courses at a dinner party at 
the Austrian Embassy, and did not recover his dejection at 
a reception of the Duchess of Lydiard-Tregoze, where the 
prettiest French Countess of her time asked him if anything 
was the matter. 

* Yes ! ' said Bertie with a sigh, and a profound melan- 
choly in what the woman called his handsome Spanish eyes, 
* I have had a great misfortune ; we have been on duty all 
da.y!' 

He did not thoroughly recover tone, light and careless 
though his temper was, till the Zu-Zu, in her diamond-edition 
of a villa, prescribed Creme de Bouzy and Parfait Amour in 
succession, with a considerable amount of pine-apple-ice at 
three o'clock in the morning, which restorative prescription 
succeeded. 

Indeed, it took something as tremendous as divorce from 
all forms of smoking for five hours, to make an impression on 
Bertie. He had the most serene insouciance that ever a man 
was blessed with ; in worry he did not believe — he never let 
it come near him ; and beyond a little difficulty sometimes in 
separating too many entangled rose-chains caught round him 
at the same time, and the annoyance of a miscalculation on 



12 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

the flat, or the ridge-and-furrow, when a Maldon or Danebury 
favourite came nowhere, or his book was wrong for the Grand 
National, Cecil had no cares of any sort or description. 
r True, the Eoyallieu Peerage, one of the most ancient and 
'^ ', almost one of the most impoverished in the kingdom, could 
^ ' ill afibrd to maintain its sons in the expensive career on which 
'^ it had launched them, and the chief there was to spare usually 
p* went between the eldest son, a Secretary of Legation in that 
jC^ costly and charming City of Vienna, and to the young one, 
^ Berkeley, through the old Viscount's partiality ; so that, had 
Bertie ever gone so far as to study his actual position, he 
would have probably confessed that it was, to say the least, 
awkward ; but then he never did this, certainly never did it 
thoroughly. Sometimes he felt himself near the wind when 
settling-day came, or the Jews appeared utterly impracticable ; 
but as a rule things had always trimmed somehow, and though 
his debts were considerable, and he was literally as pennilesa 
as a man can be to stay in the Guards at all, he had never in 
any shape realised the want of money. He might not be able 
to raise a guinea to go towards that long- standing account, his 
army tailor's bill, and post obits had long ago forestalled the 
few hundreds a year that, under his mother's settlements, 
would come to him at the Viscount's death ; but Cecil had 
■ never known in his life what it was not to have a first-rate 
, stud, not to live as luxuriously as a duke, not to order the 
' costliest dinners at the clubs, and be among the first to lead 
all the splendid entertainments and extravagances of the 
Household; he had never been without his Highland shooting, 
his Baden gaming, his prize-winning schooner among the 
K. V. Y. Squadron, his September battues, his Pytchley 
hunting, his pretty expensive Zu-Zus and other toys, his drag 
for Epsom, and his trap and hack for the Park, his crowd of 
engagements through the season, and his bevy of fair leaders 
of the fashion to smile on him, and shower their invitation- 
cards on him, like a rain of rose-leaves, as one of their * best 
men.' 
rT .' 'Best,' that is, in the sense of fashion, flirting, waltzing, 
I and general social distinction; in no other sense, for the 
'» newest of d6butantes knew well that * Beauty,' though the 
j most perfect of flirts, would never be ' serious,' and had 
. nothing to be serious with, on which understanding he waa 
: allowed by the sex to have the run of their boudoirs and 



^y^^'^ 



'BEAUTY OF THE BRIGADES' 13 

drawing-rooms, much as if he were a little lion- dog ; they 
counted him quite * safe ; ' he made love to the married 
women, to be sure, but he was quite certain not to run away 
with the marriageable daughters. 

Hence, Bertie had never felt the want of all that is bought^ 
by and represents money, and imbibed a vague, indistinct 
impression that all these things that made life pleasant came 
by Nature, and were the natural inheritance and concomitant ^ 
of anybody born in a decent station, and endowed with a / 
tolerable tact ; such a matter-of-fact difficulty as not having-' 
gold enough to pay for his own and his stud's transit to the 
Shires had very rarely stared him in the face, and when it 
did he trusted to chance to lift him safely over such ?, social 
*yawner,' and rarely trusted in vain. 

According to all the canons of his Order he was never 
excited, never disappointed, never exhilarated, never dis- 
turbed, and also of course never by any chance embarrassed. 
* Votre imperturhahiliU,' as the Prince de Ligne used to de- 
signate La Grande Catherine, would have been an admirable 
designation for Cecil — he was imperturbable under every- 
thing; even when an heiress, with feet as colossal as her 
fortune, made him a proposal of marriage, and he had to 
retreat from all the offered honours and threatened horrors, 
he courteously, but steadily declined them. Nor in more 
interesting adventures was he less happy in his coolness. When 
my Lord Regalia, who never knew v^hen he was not wanted, 
came in inopportunely in a very tender scene of the young 
Guardsman's (then but a Cornet) with his handsome Countess, 
Cecil lifted his long lashes lazily, turning to him a face of the 
most plait-il ? and innocent demureness — or consummate 
impudence, whichever you like. * We're playing Solitaire. 
Interesting game. Queer fix, though, the ball's in that's left 
all alone in the middle, don't yon think ? ' Lord Eegalia felt 
his own similarity to the * ball in a fix * too keenly to appre- 
ciate the interesting character of the amusement, or the 
coolness of the chief performer in it ; but ' Beauty's Solitaire ' 
became a synonym thenceforth among the Household to 
typify any very tender passages * sotto qtiattr' occhi.' 

This made his reputation on the town ; the ladies called it 
very wicked, but were charmed by the Richelieu-like im- 
pudence all the same, and petted the sinner ; and from then 
till now he had held his own with them ; dashing through life 



14 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

very fast, as became the first riding man in the Brigades, but 
enjoying it very fully, smoothly and softly, liking the world 
and being liked by it. 

To be sure, in the background there was always that ogre 
of money, and the beast had a knack of gnawing bigger and 
darker every year ; but then, on the other hand, Cecil never 
looked at him— never thought about him — knew, too, that 
he stood just as much behind the chairs of men whom the 
world accredited as millionaires, and whenever the ogre 
gave him a cold grip, that there was for the moment no 
escaping, washed away the touch of it in a warm fresh draft 
of pleasure. 



CHAPTER II 

THE LOOSE BOX, AND THE TABAGIE 

• Hovv long before the French can come up ? ' asked Wellington, 
hearing of the pursuit that was thundering close on his rear 
in the most critical hours of the short, sultry Spanish night. 
' Half an hour at least,' was the answer. ' Very well, then, 
I will turn in and get some sleep,' said the Commander-in- 
Chief, rolling himself in a cloak, and lying down in a ditch 
to rest as soundly for the single half-hour as any tired 
drummer-boy. 

Serenely as Wellington, another hero slept profoundly, on 
the eve of a great event — of a great contest to be met when 
the day should break — of a critical victory, depending on him 
alone to save the Guards of England from defeat and shame ; 
their honour and their hopes rested on his solitary head ; by 
him they would be lost or saved ; but unharassed by the 
magnitude of the stake at issue, unhaunted by the past, un- 
fretted by the future, he slumbered the slumber of the just. 

Not Sir Tristram, Sir Caledore, Sir Launcelot — no, nor 
Arthur himself, was ever truer knight, was ever gentler, 
braver, bolder, more staunch of heart, more loyal of soul, 
than he to whom the glory of the Brigades was trusted now ; 
never was there spirit more dauntless and fiery in the field ; 
never temper kindlier and more generous with friends and 
foes. Miles of the ridge and furrow, stiflf fences of terrible 



THE LOOSE BOX, AND THE TABAGIE 15 

blackthorn, double posts and rails, yawners and croppers both, 
tough as Shh*e and Stewards could make them, awaited him 
on the morrow ; on his beautiful lean head capfuls of money 
were piled by the Service and the Talent ; and in his stride 
all the fame of the Household would be centred on the 
morrow ; but he took his rest like the cracker he was — stand- 
ing as though he were on guard, and steady as a rock, a hero 
every inch of him. For he was Forest King, the great 
steeplechaser, on whom the Guards had laid all their money 
for the Grand Military — the Soldiers' Blue Ribbon. 

His quarters were a loose box, his camp-bed a litter of 
straw, fresh shaken down, his clothing a very handsome rug, 
hood, and quarter-piece buckled on and marked * B. C. ; ' 
above the manger and the door was lettered his own name in 
gold, * Forest King ; ' and in the panels of the latter were 
miniatures of his sire and of his dam : Lord of the Isles, one 
of the greatest hunters that the grass countries ever saw sent 
across them ; and Bayadere, a wild-pigeon-blue mare of Cir- 
cassia. How, furthermore, he stretched up to his long line 
of ancestry by the Sovereign, out of Queen of Roses ; by 
Belted Earl, out of Fallen Star ; by Marmion, out of Court 
Coquette, and straight up to the White Cockade blood, &c., 
&c., &c., is it not written in the mighty and immortal 
chronicle, precious as the Koran, patrician as the Peerage, 
known and beloved to mortals as the ' Sfcud Book ' ? 

Not an immensely large, or unusually powerful horse, but 
with race in every line of him ; steel-grey in colour, darkening 
well at all points, shining and soft as satin, with the firm 
muscles quivering beneath at the first touch of excitement to 
the high mettle and finely strung organisation ; the head 
small, lean, racer-like, * blood ' all over ; with the delicate 
taper ears, almost transparent in full light ; well ribbed-up, 
fine shoulders, admirable girth and loins ; legs clean, slender, 
firm, promising splendid knee ^i^ction ; sixteen hands high, 
and up to thirteen stone ; clever enough for anything, trained 
to close and open country, a perfect brook jumper, a clipper 
at fencing, taking a great deal of riding, as any one could 
tell by the set-on of his neck, but docile as a child to a well- 
known hand — such was Forest King with his English and 
Eastern strains, winner at Chertsey, Croydon, the National, 
the Granby, the Belvoir Castle, the Curragh, and all the 
gentleman-rider steeplechases and military sweepstakes in 



i6 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

the kingdom, and entered now, with tremendous bets on bim. 
for the Gilt Vase. 

It was a crisp, cold night outside, starry, and wintry, but 
open weather, and clear ; the ground would be just right on 
the morrow, neither hard as the slate of a billiard- table, nor 
wet as the slush of a quagmire. Forest King slept steadily 
on in his warm and spacious box, dreaming doubtless of days 
of victory, cub-hunting in the reedy October woods and 
pastures, of the ringing notes of the horn, and the sweet 
music of the pack, and the glorious quick burst up-wind, 
breasting the icy cold water, and showing the way over fence 
and bullfinch. Dozing and dreaming pleasantly, but alert 
for all that ; for he awoke suddenly, shook himself, had an 
hilarious roll in the straw, and stood ' at attention,* 

Awake only, could you tell the generous and gallant pro- 
mise of his perfect temper ; for there are no eyes that speak 
more truly, none on earth that are so beautiful, as the eyes of 
a horse. Forest King's were dark as a gazelle's, soft as a 
woman's, brilliant as stars, a little dreamy and mournful, and 
as infinitely caressing when he looked at what he loved, as 
they could blaze full of light and fire when danger was near 
and rivalry against him. How loyally such eyes have looked 
at me over the paddock fence, as a wild happy gallop was 
suddenly broken for a gentle head to be softly pushed against 
my hand with the gentlest of welcomes ! They sadly put to 
shame the million human eyes that so fast learn the lie of 
the world, and utter it as falsely as the lips. 

The steeplechaser stood alert, every fibre of his body 
strung to pleasurable excitation ; the door opened, a hand 
held him some sugar, and the voice he loved best said fondly, 
' All right, old boy ? ' 

Forest King devoured the beloved dainty with true equine 
unction, rubbed his forehead against his master's shoulder, 
and pushed his nose into the nearest pocket in search for 
more of his sweetmeat. 

* You'd eat a sugar-loaf, you dear old rascal 1 Put the 
gas up, George,' said his owner, while he turned up the 
body clothing to feel the firm, cool skin, loosened one of 
the bandages, passed his hand from thigh to fetlock, and 
glanced round the box to be sure the horse had been well 
suppered and littered down. 

' Think we shall win, Hake ? ' 



TPIE LOOSE BOX, AND THE TABAGIE 17 

Rake, with a stable lantern in his hand and a forage cap 
on one side of his head, standing a little in advance of a 
group of grooms and helpers, took a bit of straw out of his 
mouth, and smiled a smile of sublime scorn and security. 
* Win, sir ? I should be glad to know as when was that ere 
King ever beat yet, or you either, sir, for that matter ? ' 

Bertie Cecil laughed a little languidly. 

'Well, we take a good deal of beating, I think, and there 
are not very many who can give it us ; are there, old fellow ? ' 
he said to the horse, as he passed his palm over the withers ; 
' but there are some crushers in the lot to-morrow ; you'll 
have to do all you know.' 

Forest King caught the manger with his teeth, and kicked 
in a bit of play and ate some more sugar, with much licking 
of his lips to express the nonchalance with which he viewed 
his share in the contest, and his tranquil certainty of being 
first past the flags. His master looked at him once more and 
sauntered out of the box. 

* He's in first-rate form. Rake, and right as a trivet.' 

' In course he is, sir ; nobody ever laid leg over such 
cattle as all that White Cockade blood, and he's the very best 
of the strain,' said Rake, as he held up his lantern across the 
stable-yard, that looked doubly dark in the February night 
after the bright gas glare of the box. 

* So he need be,' thought Cecil, as a buil-terrier, three or 
four Gordon setters, an Alpine mastiff, and two wiry Skyea 
dashed at their chains, giving tongue in frantic delight at the 
sound of his step, while the hounds echoed the welcome from 
their more distant kennels, and he went slowly across the 
great stone yard, with the end of a huge cheroot glimmering 
through the gloom. * So he need be to pull me through. 
The Ducal and the October let me in for it enough ; I never 
was closer in my life. The deuce if I don't do the distance 
to-morrow I shan't have sovereigns enough to play pound- 
points at night I I don't know what a man's to do ; if he's 
put into this life he must go the pace of it. Why did Royal 
send me into the Guards, if he meant to keep the screw on iii 
this way ? He'd better have drafted me into a marching regi- 
ment at once, if he wanted me to live upon nothing.' 

Nothing meant anything under 6,000/. a year with Cecil, as 
the minimum of monetary necessities in this world, and a look 
01 genuine annoyance and trouble, most unusual, there was ob 

c 



18 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

his face, the picture of carelessness and gentle indiffercnoe 
habitually, though shadowed now as ho crossed the courtyard 
after his after-midnight visit to his steeplechaser. He had 
backed Forest King heavily, and stood to win or lose a cracker 
on his own riding on the morrow ; and, though he had found 
suflicient to bring him into the Shires, he had barely enough 
lying on his dressing-table, up in the bachelor suite within, to 
pay his groom's book, or a notion where to get more, if the 
King should find his match, over the ridge and furrow in the 
morning ! 

It was not pleasant : a cynical, savage, world-disgusied 
Timon derives on the whole a good amount of satisfaction 
from his breakdown in the fine philippics against his con- 
temporaries that it is certain to afford, and the magnificent 
grievances with which it furnishes him ; but when life is 
very pleasant to a man, and the world very fond of him ; 
when existence is perfectly smooth — bar that single pressure 
of money — and is an incessantly changing kaleidoscope of 
London seasons, Paris winters, ducal houses in the hunting 
months, dinners at the Pall Mall Clubs, dinners at the Star 
and Garter, dinners irreproachable everywhere, cottage for 
Ascot week, yachting with the R. Y. Y. Club, Derby handicaps 
at Hornsey, pretty chorus singers set up in Bijou villas, 
dashing rosieres taken over to Baden, warm corners in Belvoir, 
Savernake, and Longleat battues, and all the rest of the 
general programme, with no drawback to it, except the duties 
at the Palace, the heat of a review, or the extravagance of a 
pampered lionne — theii to be pulled up in that easy swinging 
gallop for sheer want of a golden shoe, as one may say, is 
abominably bitter, and requires far more philosophy to endure 
than Timon would ever manage to muster. It is a bore, an 
unmitigated bore, a harsh, hateful, unrelieved martyrdom 
that the world does not see, and that the world would not 
pity if it did. 

'Never mind I Things will come right. Forest King 
never failed me yet; he is as full of running as a Derby 
winner, and he'll go over the yawners like a bird,' thought 
Cecil, who never confronted his troubles with more than 
sixty seconds' thought, and who was of that Hght, impassible, 
half-levity, half-languor of temperament that both throws off 
worry easily, and shirks it persistently. * SulTicient for the 
day,' Ac, was the essence of bis creed, and if he had 



THE LOOSE BOX, AND THE TABAGIE 19 

enough to lay a fiver at night on the rubber, he was quite 
able to forget for the time that he wanted five hundred for 
settHng-day in the morning, and had not an idea how to get 
it. There waa not a trace of anxiety on him, when he 
opened a low arched door, passed down a corridor, and 
entered the warm, full light of that chamber of liberty, that 
sanctuary of the persecuted, that temple of refuge, thrice 
blessed in all its forms throughout the land, that consecrated 
Mecca of every true believer in the divinity of the meerschaum, 
and tiie paradise of the narghile — the smoking-room. 

A spacious easy chamber, too, lined with the laziest of 
divans, seen just now through a fog of sraolie, and tenanted 
by nearly a score of mca in every imaginable loose velvet 
costume, and with faces as well known in the Park at six 
o'clock in May, and on the Heath in October, in Paris in 
January, and on the Solent in August, in Pratt's of a sum- 
mer's night, and on the Moors in an autumn morning, as 
though they were features that came round as regularly as 
the • July ' or the Waterloo Cup. Some were pulfing away 
in calm meditative comfort, in silence that they would not 
have broken for any earthly consideration ; others were talking 
hard and fast, and through the air heavily weighted with the 
varieties of tobacco, from tiny cigarettes to giant cheroots, 
from rough bowls full of cavendish to sybaritic rose-water 
hookahs, a Babel of sentences rose together : ' Gave him too 
much riding, the idiot.' ' Take the field, bar one.* ' Nothing 
so good for the mare as a little nitre and antim-ony in her 
mash.' * Not at all ! the Regent and Rake cross in the old 
strain, always was black-tan with a white frill.* * The 
EarFs as good a fellow as Lady Flora, always give you a 
mount.* ' Nothing like a Kate Terry, though, on a bright 
day for salmon.' 'Faster thing I never knew; found at 
twenty minutes past eleven, and killed just beyond Longdown 
Water at ten to twelve.' All these various phrases were 
rushing in among each other, and tossed across the eddies of 
smoke in the conflict of tongues loosened in the tabagie 
and made eloquent, though slightly inarticulate, by pipe- 
stems ; while a tall, fair man, with the limbs of a Hercules, 
the chest of a prize fighter, and the face of a Raphael Angel, 
known in the Household as Seraph, was in the full flood of a 
story of whist played under difliculties in the Doncaster 

express. 

02 



20 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

' 1 wanted a monkey ; I wanted monkeys awfally,' he 
was stating as Forest King's owner came into the smoking- 
room. 

* Did you, Seraph ? The *' Zoo" or the Clubs could supply 
you with apes fully developed to any amount,* said Bertie, as 
he threw himself down. 

' You be hanged I ' laughed the Seraph, known to the 
rest of the world as the Marquis of Rockingham, son of the 
Duke of Lyonnesse. * I wished monkeys, but the others 
wished ponies and hundreds, so I gave in ; Vandebur and I 
won two rubbers, and we'd just begun the third when the 
train stoppea^-with a crash ; none of us dropped the cards 
though, but the tricks and the scores all went down with the 
shaking. " Can't play in that row," said Charlie, for the 
women were shrieking like mad, and the engine was roaring 
like my mare Philippa — I'm afraid she'll never be cured, poor 
thing ! — so I put my head out and asked what was up ? We'd 
run into a cattle train. Anybody hurt ? No, nobody hurt ; 
but we were to get out. "I'll be shot if I get out," I told 
'em, " till I've finished the rubber." " But you must get out," 
said the guard ; ** carriages must be moved." " Nobody says 
* must * to him," said Van (he'd drank more Perles du Ehin 
than was good for him at Doncaster) ; " don't you know the 
Seraph?" Man stared. " Yes, sir, — know the Seraph, sir? 
leastways did, sir, afore he died ; see him once at Moulsey 
Mill, sir ; his * one two ' was amazin'. Waters soon threw 
up the sponge." We were all dying with laughter, and I tossed 
him a tenner. ** There, my good fellow," said I, " shunt the 
carriage and let us finish the game. If another train come up, 
give it Lord Rockingham's compliments and say he'll thank 
it to stop, because collisions shake his trumps together." 
Man thought us mad, took tenner though, shunted us to one 
side out of the noise, and we played two rubbers more 
before they'd repaired the damage and sent us on to town.' 

And the Seraph took a long-drawn whiff from his silver 
meerschaum, and then a deep draught of soda and brandy to 
refresh himself after the narrative — biggest, best tempered, 
and wildest of men in or out of the Service, despite the angelic 
character of his fair-haired head, and blue eyes that looked as 
clear and as innocent as those of a six-year-old child. 

* Not the first time by a good many that you've " shunted 
off the straight," Seraph?' laughed Cecil, substituting an 



THE LOOSE BOX, AND THE TABAGIE 21 

amber mouthpiece for his half-finished cheroot. ' I've been 
having a good-night look at the King. He'll stay.' 

* Of course he will,' chorused half a dozen voices. 

' With all our pots on him,* added the Seraph. ' He's toe 
much of a gentleman to put us all up a tree ; he knows he 
carries the honour of the Household.* 

' There are some good mounts, there's no denying that,' 
said Chesterfield of the Blues (who was called Tom for no 
other reason than that it was entirely unUke his real name of 
Adolphus), where he was curled up almost invisible, except 
for the movement of the jasmine stick of his chibouque. 

• That brute. Day Star, is a splendid fencer, and for a brook 
jumper, it would be hard to beat Wild Gera,nium, though 
her shoulders are not quite what they ought to be. Monta- 
cute, too, can ride a good thing, and he's got one in Pas de 
Charge.* 

' I'm not much afraid of Monti, he makes too wild a burst 
first ; he never saves one atom,' yawned Cecil, with the coils 
of his hookah bubbling among the rose-water ; * the man I'n: 
afraid of is that fellow from the Tenth ; he's as light as a 
feather and as hard as steel. I watched him yesterday going 
over the water, and the horse he'll ride for Trelawney is good 
enough to beat even the King if he's properly piloted.' 

' You haven't kept yourself in condition. Beauty,' growled 

* Tom,' with the chibouque in his mouth, ' else nothing could 
give you the go-by. It's tempting Providence to go in for 
the Gilt Vase after such a December and January as you spent 
in Paris. Even the week you've been in the Shires you 
haven't trained a bit ; you've been waltzing or playing bacca- 
rat till five in the morning, and taking no end of sodas after 
to bring you right for the meet at nine. If a man will drink 
champagnes and burgundies as you do, and spend his time 
after women, I should like to know how he's to be in hard- 
riding condition, unless he expects a miracle.' 

With which Chesterfield, who weighed fourteen stone him- 
self, and was, therefore, out of aU but welter-races, and wanted 
a weight -carrier of tremendous power even for them, subsided 
under a heap of velvet and cashmere, and Cecil laughed : 
lying on a divan just under one of the gas branches, the light 
fell full on his handsome face, with its fair hue and its gentle 
languor on which there wag not a single trace of the autre- 
cuidanoe attributed to him. Both he and the Seraph could 



22 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

• lead the wildest life of any men in Europe without looking 
i one shadow more worn than the brightest beauty of the sea- 
; son, and could hold wassail in riotous rivalry till the sun rose, 
\ and then throw themselves into saddle as fresh as if they had 
jibeen sound asleep all night, to keep up with the pack the 
jj whole day in a fast burst or on a cold scent, or in whatever 
{■sport Fortune and the coverts gave them, till their second 
^horses wound their way homeward through muddy, leafless 
J lanes, when the stars had risen. 

•^ * Beauty don't believe in training. No more do I. Never 
would train for anything,' said the Seraph, now, pulling the 
long blonde moustaches that were not altogether in character 
with his seraphic cognomen. ' If a man can ride, let him. 
Jf he's born to the pigskin, he'll be in f i the distance safe 
enough, whether he smoke or don't smoke, drink or don't 
drink. As for training on raw chops, giving up wine, living 
like the very deuce, and all as if you were in a monastery, 
and changing yourself into a mere bag of bones — it's utter 
bosh. You might as well be in purgatory ; besides, it's no 
more credit to win then than if you were a professional.' 

' But you must have trained at Christ Church, Rock, for 
the Eight ? ' asked another Guardsman, Sir Vere Bellingham, 
' Severe,' as he was christened, chiefly because he was the 
easiest-going giant in existence. 

' Did 1 1 men came to me ; wanted me to join the Eight ; 
coxswain came, awful strict little fellow, docked his men of 
all their fun — took plenty himself though I Coxswain said I 
must begin to train, do as all his crew did. I threw up my 
<\ sleeve and showed him my arm ; ' and the Seraph stretched 
^ out an arm magnificent enough for a statue of Milo. * I 
f said, " There, sir, I'll htlp you thrash Cambridge, if you like, 
but train I won't for you or for all the University. I've been 
\ Captain of the Eton Eight ; but I didn't keep my crew on 
"lea and toast. I fattened 'em regularly three times a week 
on venison and champagne at Christopher's. Very happy to 
feed yours, too, if you like ; game comes down to me every 
Friday from the Duke's moors ; they look uncommonly as if 
they wanted it ! " You should have seen his face ! — fatten the 
Eight I He didn't let me do tliat of course ; but he was very 
glad of my oar in his rowlocks, and I helped him beat Cam- 
bridge without training an hour myself, except so far as 
rov/ing hard went.' 



THE LOOSE BOX, AND THE TABAGIE 23 

And the Marquis of Rockingham, made thirsty by the 
recollection, dipped his fair moustaches into a foaming 
seltzer. 

' Quite right, Seraph ! ' said Cecil, * when a man comes 
up to the weights, looking like a homunculus after he's been 
getting every atom of flesh off him like a jockey, he ought to 
be struck out for the stakes to my mind. 'Tisn't a question 
of riding, then, nor yet of pluck, or of management ; it's 
nothing but a question of pounds, and of who can stand the 
tamest life the longest.' 

* Well, beneficial for one's morj.ls, at any rate,' suggested C- 
Sir Vere. 

* M^als be hanged,' said Bertie, very immorally. 'I'm 
glad yoii remind us of them, Vere, you're such~a quintessence 
of decorum and respectability yourself! I say — anybody 
know anything of this fellow of the Tenth that's to ride 
Trelawney's chestnut ? ' 

* Jimmy Delmar ! Oh, yes ; I know Jimmy,' answered 
Lord Cosmo Wentworth, of the Scots Fusileers, from the 
far depths of an armchair. *Knew him at'Aldershot. Fine 
rider ; give you a good bit of trouble, Beauty. Hasn't been 
in England for years ; troop been such a while at Calcutta. 
The Fancy take to him rather ; offering very freely on him 
this morning in the Village : and he's got a rare good thing 
in the chestnut.' 

' Not a doubt of it. The White Lily blood, out of that 
Irish mare D' Orleans Diamonds too.* 

* Never mind ! Tenth won't beat us. The Household will 
win safe enough, unless Forest King goes and breaks his 
back over Brixworth — eh. Beauty ? ' said the Seraph, who 
believed devoutly in his comrade, with all the loving loyalty 
characteristic of the House of Lyonnesse, that to monarchs 
and to friends had often cost it very dear. 

' You put your faith in the T\Tong quarter. Rock ; I may 
fail you, he never will,' said Cecil, with ever so slight a dash 
of sadness in his words ; the thought crossed him of how 
boldly, how straightly, how gallantly the horse always 
breasted and conquered his difficulties — did he himself deal 
half so well with his own ? 

* Well ! you both of you carry all our money and all our 
credit ; so for the fair fame of the Household do " all you 
know." I haven't hedged a shilling, not laid off a farthing, 



S4 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

Bertie ; I stand on you and the King, and nothing else — s©e 
what a sublime faith I have in you.' 

* I don't think you're wise then, Seraph ; the field will 
be very strong,' said Cecil, languidly. The answer was in- 
different, and certainly thankless ; but under his drooped lids 
a glance, frank and warm, rested for the moment on the 
Seraph's leonine strength and Eaphaelesque head ; it was 
not his way to say it, or to show it, or even much to think 
it ; but in his heart he loved his old friend wonderfully well. 

And they talked on of little else than of the great steeple- 
chase of the Service, for the next hour in the Tabak-Par- 
liament, while the great clouds of scented smoke circled 
heavily round, making a halo of Turkish above the gold locks 
of the Titanic Seraph, steeping Chesterfield's velvets in strong 
odours of Cavendish, and drifting a light rose-scented mist 
over Bertie's long lithe limbs, light enough and skilled enough 
to disdain * all training for the weights.' 

* That's not the way to be in condition,' growled ' Tom,* 
getting up with a great shake as the clock clanged the strokes 
of five ; they had only returned from a ball three miles off, 
when Cecil had paid his visit to the loose box. Bertie 
laughed ; his laugh was like himself, rather languid but very 
light-hearted, very silvery, very engaging. 

' Sit and smoke till breakfast time if you like, Tom, it 
won't make any difference to me.' 

But the Smoke Parliament wouldn't hear of the champion 
of tlie Household over the ridge and furrow, risking the 
steadiness of his wrist and the keenness of his eye, by any 
such additional tempting of Providence, and went off itself 
in various directions, with good-night iced drinks, yawning 
considerably, like most other parliaments after a sitting. 

It was the old family place of the Royallieu House in 
which he had congregated half the Guardsmen in the Service 
for the groat event, and consequently the bachelor chambers 
in it were of the utmost comfort and spaciousness, and when 
Cecil sauntered into his old quarters, familiar from boyhood, 
he could not have been better off in his own luxurious haunts 
in Piccadilly. Moreover, the first thing that caught his eye 
was a dainty scarlet silk riding jacket broidered in gold and 
silver, with the mo.tto. of his house, ' Cceur Vaillant se fait 
Royaume,' all circled with oak and laurel leAves on the 
Dollar. 



THE SOLDIERS' BLUE RIBBON 25 

It was the work of very fair hands, of very aristocratic 
hands, and he looked at it with a smile. ' Ah, my lady, my 
lady I * he thought half aloud, * do you really love me ? Do 
I really love you ? * 

There was a laugh in his eyes as ho asked himself what 
might be termed an interesting question ; then something 
more earnest came over his face, and he stood a second with 
the pretty costly embroideries in his hand, with a smile that 
was almost tender, though it was still much more amused. 
' I suppose we do,' he concluded at last, * at least quite as 
much as is ever worth while. Passions don't do for the - 
drawing-room, as somebody says in ** Coningsby ; " besides — \ ^ 
I would not feel a strong emotion for the universe. Bad style 
always, and more detrimental to "condition," as Tom would, 
£ay, than three bottles of brandy ! * 

He was so little near what he dreaded, at present at least, 
that the scarlet jacket was tossed down again, and gave him 
no dreams of its fair and titled embroideress. He looked out, 
the last thing, at some ominous clouds drifting heavily up 
before the dawn, and the state of the weather, and the chance 
of its being rainy, filled his thoughts, to the utter exclusion 
of the donor of that bright gold-laden dainty gift. * I hope 
to goodness there won't be any drenching shower. Forest 
King can stand ground as hard as a slate, but if there's one 
thing he's weak in it's slush i ' was Bertie's last conscious^ 
thought, as he stretched his limbs out and fell sound asleep. 



CHAPTER in 

THE SOLDIEES' BLUE RIBBOK 

'Take the Field bar one.' 'Two to one on Forest King.* 

* Two to one on^Bay Regent.' * Fourteen to seven on Wild 
Geranium.' * Seven to two against Brother to Fairy.* 

* Three to five on Pas de Charge.' ' Nineteen to six on Day 
Star.' * Take the Field bar one ' — rose above the hoarse 
tumultuous roar of the Ring on the clear, crisp, sunny 
morning that was shining on the Shires on the day of the 
famous steeplechase. 



26 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

The talent Lad come in great muster from London ; the 
great bookmakers were there with their stentor lungs and 
their quiet, quick entry of thousands ; and the din and the 
turmoil, at the tiptop of their height, were more like a 
gathering on the Heath or before the Red House than the 
local throngs that usually mark steeplechase meetings, even 
when they be the Grand Military or the Grand National. 
There were keen excitement and heavy stakes on the present 
event ; the betting had never stood still a second in Town or 
the Shires ; and even the * knowing ones,' the worshippers of 
the * fiat ' alone, the professionals who ran down gentlemen 
races, and the hypercritios who affirmed that there is not such 
a thing as a steeplechaser to be found on earth (since, to 
be a fencer, a water-jumper, and a racer, were to attain an 
equine perfection impossible on earth, whatever it may be in 
' the happy hunting ground ' of immortality), even these, one 
and all of them, came eager to see the running for the Gilt 
Vase. 

For it was known very well that the Guards had backed 
their horse tremendously, and the county laid most of its 
money on him, and the bookmakers were shy of laying olf 
much against one of the first cross-country riders of the 
Service, who had landed his mount at the Grand National 
Handicap, the Billesdon Coplow, the Ealing, the Curragh, the 
Prix du Donjon, the Rastatt, and almost every other for which 
he had entered. Yet, despite this, the * Fancy ' took most to 
Bay Regent ; they thought he would cut the work out ; his 
sire had won the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster, and the 
Drawing-room at ' glorious Goodwood,' and that racing strain 
through the \yhifce Lily blood, coupled with a magnificent 
reputation which he brought from Leicestershire as a fencer, 
found him chief favour among the fraternity. 

His jockey, Jimmy Delmar, too, with his bionzed, mus- 
cular, sinewy frame, his low stature, his light weight, his 
Bunburnt, acute face, and a way of carrying his hands as he 
rode that was precisely like Aldcroft's, looked a hundred 
times more professional than the brilliance of * Beauty,' and 
the reckless dash of his well-known way of ' sending the horse 
along with all he had in him,' which was undeniably much 
more like a fast kill over the Melton country than hke a 
weight-for-age race anyv/here. * You see the Service in his 
stirrups,* said an old nobbier who had watched many a trial 



THE SOLDIERS' BLUE RIBBON 27 

spin, lying hidden in a ditch or a drain ; and indisputably 
yoii did : Bertie's riding was superb, but it was still the 
riding of a cavalry man, not of a jockey. The mere turn of 
the foot in the stirrups told it, as the old man had the shrewd- 
ness to know. 

So the King went down at one time two points m the 
morning betting. 

'Know them flash cracks of the Household,* said Tim 
Varnet,, as sharp a little Leg as ever ' got on ' a dark thing, 
and * went halves ' with a . joek- who consented to rope a 
favourite at the Ducal, "them swells, ye see, they give^-^ 
any money for blood. They just "go by Godolphin heads, and 
little feet, and winners' strains, and all the rest of it ; and so 
long as they get pedigree never look at substance ; and their 
bone comes no bigger than a deer's. Now, it's force as well 
as pace that tells over a bit of plow ; a critter that would win 
the Derby on the flat would knock up over the first spin 
over the clods ; a-nd that King's legs are too light for my 
fancy, 'andsome as *t is ondeniable he looks — for a little 'un, 
as one may say.' 

And Tim Varnet exactly expressed the dominant mistrust 
of the talent ; despite all his race and ail his exploits, ih.& 
King was not popular in the Eing, because he was like 
his backers — * a^-^yelL' They thought him ' showy — very 
showy,' 'a picture to frame,' *a lustre to look at;' but 
they disbelieved in him, almost to a man, as a stayer^ and 
they trusted him scarcely at all with their money. 

'It's plain that he's "meant," though,' thought little 
Tim, who was so used to the ' shady ' in stable matters, 
that he could hardly persuade himself that even the Grand 
MiUtary could be run fair, and would have thought a Guards- 
man or a Hussar only exercised his just privilege as a jockey 
in 'roping' after selling the race, if so it suited his book. 

' He's " meant," that's clear, 'cause the swells have put all 
their pots on him — but if the pots don't bile over, strike me 
a loser ! ' a contingency he knew he might very well invoke, 
his investments being invariably so matchlessly arranged, 
that let what would be ' bowled over,' Tim Varnet never 
could be. 

Whatever the King might prove, however, the Guards, the 
Flower of the Service, must stand or fall by him ; they had not 
another horse entered^ so complete was the trust that, like the 



as UNDER TWO FLAGS 

Seraph, they put in ' Beauty ' and his grey. But there was 
no doubt as to the tremendousness of the struggle lying 
before him. The running ground covered four miles and a 
half, and had forty-two jumps in it, exclusive of the famous 
Brixworth : half was grassland, and half ridge and furrow ; 
a lane with very awkward double fences laced in and in with 
the memorable blackthorn, a laid hedge with thick growers 
in it, and many another * teaser,' coupled with the yawning 
water, made the course a severe one ; "while thirty-two 
starters of unusual excellence gave a good field and promised 
a close race. Every fine bit of steejjJechase blood that was to be 
fomid in their studs, the Service had brought together for the 
great event ; and if the question could ever be solved, whether 
it'is possible to find a strain that shall combine pace over the 
flat, with the heart to stay over an inclosed country, the 
speed to race, with the bottom to fence and the force to clear 
water, it seemed likely to be settled now. The Service and 
the Stable had done their uttermost to reach its solution. 

The clock of the course pointed to half -past one ; the 
saddling bell would ring at a quarter to two, for the days 
were short and darkened early ; the Stewards were all arrived, 
except the Marquis of Rockingham, and the Ring was in the 
full rush of excitement, some * getting on ' hurriedly to 
make up for lost time, some * peppering ' one or other of the 
favourites hotly, some laying off their moneys in a cold fit of 
caution, some putting capfuls on the King, or Bay Regent, 
or Pas de Charge, without hedging a shilling. The London 
talent, the agents from the great commission stables, the 
local betting men, the shrewd wiseacres from the Ridings, 
all the rest of the brotherhood of the Turf were crowding 
together with the deafening shouting common to them which 
sounds so tumultuous, so insane, and so unintelligible to 
outsiders. Amid them half the titled heads of England, all 
the great names known on the flat, and men in the Guards, 
men in the Rifles, men in the Light Cavalry, men in the 
Heavies, men in the Scots Greys, men in the Horse Artillery, 
men in all the Arms and all the Regiments that had sent their 
first riders to try for the Blue Ribbon, were backing their 
horses with crackers, and jotting down figure after figure, with 
jewelled pencils, in dainty books, taking long odds with the 
fielders. Carriages were standing in long lines along the course, 
the stands were filled with almost as bright a bevy of fashion- 



THE SOLDIERS' BLUE RIBBON 29 

able loveliness as the Ducal brings together under the park trees 
of Goodwood ; the horses were being led into the inclosure 
for saddling, a brilliant sun shone for the nonce on the freshest 
of February noons ; beautiful women were fluttering out of 
their barouches in furs and velvets, wearing the colours of the 
jockey they favoured, and more predominant than any were 
Cecil's scarlet and white, only rivalled in prominence by the 
azure of the Heavy Cavalry champion. Sir Eyre Montacute. 
A drag with four bays — with fine hunting points about them 
— had dashed up, late of course ; the Seraph had swung him- 
self from the roller- bolt into the saddle of his hack (one of 
those few rare hacks that are jperfecty and combine every 
excellence of pace, bone, and action, under their modest 
appellative), and had cantered off to join the Stewards, while 
Cecil had gone up to a group of ladies in the Grand Stand, as 
if he had no more to do w4th the morning's business than 
they. Eight in front of that Stand was an artificial bullfinch 
that promised to treat most of the field to a * purler,' a deep 
ditch dug and filled with water, with two towering black- 
thorn fences on either side of it, as awkward a leap as the 
most cramped country ever showed ; some were complaining 
of it ; it was too severe, it was unfair, it would break the 
back of every horse sent at it. The other Stewards were not 
unwilHng to have it tamed down a little, but the Seraph, 
generally the easiest of all sweet-tempered creatures, refused 
resolutely to let it be touched. 

'Look here,' said he confidentially, as he wheeled his 
hack round to the Stand and beckoned Cecil down, ' look 
here. Beauty, they're w-anting to alter that teaser, make it 
less awkward you know, but I wouldn't because I thought 
it would look as if I lessened it for you, you know. Still 
it is a cracker and no mistake ; Brix worth itself is nothing 
to it, and if you'd like it toned down I'll let them do 
it ? ' 

' My dear Seraph, not for worlds ! You were quite right 
not to have a thorn taken out. Why thaVs where I shall 
thrash Bay P.egent,' said Bertie serenely, as if the winning 
of the stakes had been forecast in his horoscope. 

The Seraph whistled, stroking his moustaches. * Between 
ourselves, Cecil, that fellow is going up no end. The Talent 
fancy him so * 

' Let them,* said Cecil placidly, with a great cheroot in his 



30 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

mouth, lounging into the centre of the Ring to hear how the 
betting went on his own mount, perfectly regardless that he 
would keep them waiting at the weights while he dressed. 
Everybody there knew him by name and sight ; and eager 
glances followed the tall form of the Guards' Champion as he 
moved through the press, in a loose brown sealskin coat, with 
a little strip of scarlet ribbon round his throat, nodding to 
this peer, taking evens with that, exchanging a whisper with 
a Duke, and squaring his book with a Jew. Murmurs fol- 
lowed about him as if he were the horse himself — * looks in 
racing form ' — * looks used up to me ' — * too httle hands surely 
to hold in long in a spin ' — ' too much length in the limbs 
for a light weight, bone's always awfully heavy ' — ' dark under 
the eye, been going too fast for trainin' ' — * a swell all over, 
but rides no end,' with other innumerable contradictory 
phrases, according as the speaker was ' on ' him or against 
him, buzzed about him from the rilT-raff of the Ring, in no 
way disturbing his serene equanimity. 

One man, a big fellow^ * ossy ' all over, with the genuine 
sporting cut-away coat, and a superabundance of showy 
necktie and bad jewellery, eyed him curiously, and slightly 
turned so that his back was towards Bertie, as the latter was 
entering a bet with another Guardsman well known on the 
turf, and he himself was taking long odds v/ith little Berk Cecil, 
the boy having betted on his brother's riding, as though he 
had the Bank of England at his back. Indeed, save that the 
lad had the hereditary RoyalUeu instinct of extravagance, 
and, with a half-thoughtless, half-wilful improvidence, piled 
debts and difficulties on his rather brainless and boyish head, 
he hnd much more to depend on than his elder : old Lord 
Royaii'eu doted on him, spoilt him, and denied him nothing, 
though himself a stern, austere, passionate man, made irascible 
by ill-health, and, in his fits of anger, a very terrible per- 
sonage indeed, no more to be conciliated by persuasion than 
iron is to be bent by the hand ; so terrible, that even his pet 
dreaded him mortally, and came to Bertie to get his impru- 
dences and peccadilloes covered from the Viscount's sight. 

Glancing round at this moment as he stood in the Ring, 
Cecil saw the betting man with whom Berkeley was taking 
long odds on the race ; he raised his eyebrows, and his face 
darkened for a second, though resuming his habitual listless 
serenity almost immediately. 



THE SOLDIERS' BLUE RIBBON 31 

* You remember that case of welshing after the Ebor 
St. Leger, Con ? ' he said in a low tone to the Earl of Con- 
stantia, with whom he was talking. The Earl nodded assent ; 
everyone had heard of it, and a very flagrant case it was. 

* There's the fellow,' said Cecil, laconically, and strode 
towards him with his long, lounging cavalry swung. The 
man turned pallid under his florid skin, and tried to edge 
imperceptibly away ; but the density of the throng prevented 
his moving quickly enough to evade Cecil, who stooped his 
head, and said a word in his ear. It was briefly : 

'Leave the ring.' 

The rascal, half bully, half coward, rallied from the 
startled fear into w^hich his first recognition by the Guards- 
man (who had been the chief witness against him in a very 
scandalous matter at York, and who had warned him that if 
he ever saw him again in the Eing, he would have him turned 
out of it) had thrown him, and, relying on insolence and the 
numbers of his fraternity to back him out of it, stood his 
ground. 

* I've as much right here as you swells,' he said, with a 
hoarse laugh. * Are you the whole Jockey Club, that you 
come it to a honest gentleman like that ? ' 

Cecil looked down on him slightly amused, immeasurably 
disgusted. Of all earth's terrors, there was not one so great 
for him as a scene, and the eager bloodshot eyes of the Ring 
were turning on them by the thousand, and the loud shouting 
of the bookmakers was thundering out, ' What's up ? ' 

'My ''honest gentleman," ' he said, wearily, 'leave thiB, I 
tell you ; do you hear ? ' 

' Make me I ' retorted the * Welshei-/ defiant in his stout-\ 
built square strength, and ready to brazen the matter out. \ 
* Make me, my cock 0' fine feathers 1 Put me out of the ' 
ring if you can, Mr. Dainty Limbs ! I've as much business / 
here as you.* 

The words were hardly out of his mouth, before, light as a'\ 
deer and close as steel, Cecil's hand w^as on his collar, and - 
without any seeming effort, without the slightest passion, he •■i' 
calmly lifted him off the ground, as though he were a terrier, 
and thrust him through the throng ; Ben Davis, as the 
Welsher was named, meantime being so amazed at such un- 
looked-for might in the grasp of the gentlest, idlest, most 
gracefully made, and indolently tempered of his born foes and 



32 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

prey, 'the swells,' that he let himself be forced along back« 
I ward iiTsheei-'passive paralysis of astonishment, while Bertie, 
profoundly insensible to the tumult that began to rise and 
^ roar about him, from those who were not too absorbed in the 
'business of the morning to note what took place, thrust him 
Blong in the single clasp of his right hand outward to where 
the running ground swept past the Stand, and threw him 
lightly, easily, just as one may throw a lapdog to take his 
path, into the artificial ditch filled with water that the Seraph 
Jiad pointed out as ' a teaser.' The man fell unhurt, un- 
bruised, so gently was he dropped on his back among the 
muddy, chilly water, and the overhanging brambles ; and, as 
he rose from the ducking, a shower of ferocious and filthy 
oaths poured from his lips, increased tenfold by the uproarious 
laughter of the crowd, who knew him as * a Welsher,* and 
thought him only too well served. 

Policemen rushed in at all points, rural and metropolitan, 
breathless, austere, and, of course, too late. Bertie turned to 
them, with a slight wave of his hand, to sign them away. 

' Don't trouble yourselves ! It's nothing you could inter- 
fere in ; take care that person does not come into the betting 
ring again, that's all.' 

The Seraph, Lord Constantia, Wentworth, and many others 
of his set, catching sight of the turmoil and of ' Beauty,' 
with the great square-set figure of Ben Davis pressed before 
him through the mob, forced their way up as quickly as 
they could ; but before they reached the spot Cecil was 
sauntering back to meet them, cool and listless, and a little 
bored with so much exertion, his cheroot in his mouth, and 
his ear serenely deaf to the clamour about the ditch. 

He looked apologetically at the Seraph and the others ; he 
felt some apology was required for having so far wandered 
from all the canons of his Order as to have approached ' a 
row,' and run the risk of a scene. 

' Turf vmst be cleared of these scamps, you see,' he said, 
with a half sigh. ' Law can't do anything. Fellow was 
trying to ** get on " with the young one, too. Don't bet with 
those rilT-rafif, Berk. The great bookmakers will make you 
dead money, and the little Legs will do worse to you.' 

The boy hung his head, but looked sulky rather than 
thankful fo\* hie brother's interference with himself and the 
Weigher. 



THE SOLDIERS' BLUE RIBBON 33 

• You have done the Turf a service, Beauty — a very great 
service ; there's no doubt about that,* said the Seraph. 
' Law can't do anything, as you say ; opinion must clear the 
Ring of such rascals ; a Welsher ought not to dare to show hia 
face here ; but, at the same time, you oughtn't to have gone 
unsteadying your muscle, and risking the firmness of your 
hand at such a minute as this, with pitching that fellow 
over. Why couldn't you wait till afterwards ? or have let me 
do it ? ' 

'My dear Seraph,' murmured Bertie, languidly, 'I've 
gone in to-day for exertion ; a little more or less is nothing. 
Besides, Welshers are slippery dogs, you know.* 

He did not add that it was having seen Ben Davis taking 
odds with his young brother which had spurred him to such 
instantaneous action with that disreputable personage, who, 
beyond doubt, only received a tithe part of his deserts, and 
merited to be double-thonged off every course in the kingdom. 

Rake at that instant darted panting like a hot retriever out 
of the throng. ' Mr. Cecil, sir, will you please come to the 
weights ? — the saddling bell's a-going to ring, and ' 

' Tell them to wait for me ; I shall only be twenty minutes 
dressing,' said Cecil, quietly, regardless that the time at 
which the horses should have been at the starting-post was 
then clanging from the clock within the Grand Stand. Did 
you ever go to a gentleman -rider race where the jocks were 
not at least an hour behind time, and considered themselves, 
on the whole, very tolerably punctual ? At last, however, he 
sauntered into the dressing-shed, and was aided by Rake into 
tops that had at length achieved a spotless triumph, and the 
scarlet gold-broidered jacket of his fair friend*s art with white 
hoops, and the ' Cceur Vaillant se fait Royaume * on the 
collar, and the white gleaming sash to be worn across it fringed 
by the same fair hands with silver. 

Meanwhile, the 'Welcher,' driven off the course by a 
hooting and indignant crowd, shaking the water from hia 
clothes, with bitter oaths, and livid with a deadly passion at 
his exile from the harvest-field of his lawless gleanings, went 
his way, with a savage vow of vengeance against the ' d — d 
dandy,' the * Guards' swell,' who had shown him up before 
the world as the scoundrel he was. 

The bell was clanging and clashing passionately, as Cecil 
at last went down to the weights, all his friends of the House- 

o 



34 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

hold about him, and all standing ♦ crushers ' on t.heir cham- 
pion, for their stringent esprit du corps was involved, and the 
Guards are never backward in putting their gold down, as all 
the world knows. In the inclosure, the cynosure of devouring 
eyes, stood the King, with the sangfroid of a superb gentle- 
man, amid the clamour raging round him, one delicate ear laid 
back now and then, but otherwise indifferent to the din, with 
his coat glistening like satin, the beautiful tracery of vein 
and muscle, like the veins of vine-leaves, standing out on the 
glossy, clear- carved neck that had the arch of Circassia, and 
his dark, antelope eyes gazing with a gentle, pensive earnest- 
ness on the shouting crowd. 

His rivals, too, were beyond par in fitness and in condition, 
and there were magnificent animals among them. Bay Regent 
was a huge raking chestnut, upwards of sixteen hands, and 
enormously powerful, with very fine shoulders, and an all- 
over-like-going head ; he belonged to a Colonel in the Rifles, 
but was to be ridden by Jimmy Delmar of the 10th Lancers, 
whose colours were violet with orange hoops. Montacute's 
horse, Pas de Charge, which carried all the money of the 
Heavy Cavalry, Montacute himself being in the Dragoon 
Guards, was of much the same order, a black hunter with 
racing blood in him, loins and withers that assured any 
amount of force, and no fault but that of a rather coarse head, 
traceable to a slur on his 'scutcheon on the distaff side from a 
plebeian great-grandmother, who had been a cart mare, the 
only stain in his otherwise faultless pedigree. However, she 
had given him her massive shoulders, so that he was in some 
sense a gainer by her after all. Wild Geranium was a beauti- 
ful creature enough, a bright bay Irish mare, with that rich 
red gloss that is like the glow of a horse chestnut, very perfect 
in shape, though a trifle light perhaps, and with not quite 
strength enough in neck or barrel ; she would jump the 
fences of her own paddock half a dozen times a day for sheer 
amusement, and was game to anything.' She was entered 
by Cartouche of the Enniskillens, to be ridden by * Baby 
Grafton,' of the same corps, a feather weight, and quite a 
boy, but with plenty of science in him. These were the 

• The portrait of this lady is that of a very esteemed young Irish beauty 
of my acquaintance; she this season did seventy-six miles on a warm June 
day, and ate her corn and tares afterwards as if nothing happened. She is 
Siic yesra old« 



THE SOLDIERS' BLUE RIBBON 35 

i/hreo favourites ; Day Star ran them close, the property of 
Durham Vavassour, of tho Scots Greys, and to be ridden by 
his owner — a handsome, flea-bitten, grey sixteen-hander, with 
ragged hips, and action that looked a trifle stringhalty, but 
noble shoulders, and great force in the loins and withers ; 
the rest of the field, though unusually excellent, did not find 
BO many * sweet voices ' for them, and were not so much to 
be feared : each starter was of course much backed by his 
party, but tlie betting was tolerably even on these four — all 
famous steeplechasers — the King at one time, and Bay 
Regent at another, slightly leadmg in the Ring. 

Thirty-two starters were hoisted up on the telegraph-board, 
and as the field got at last under weigh, uncommonly hand- 
some they looked, while the silk jackets of all the colours of 
the rainbow glittered in the bright noon-sun. As Forest 
King closed in, perfectly tranquil still, but, beginning to glow 
and quiver all over with excitement, knowing as well as his 
rider the work that was before him, and longing for it in 
every muscle and every limb, while his eyes flashed fire as he 
pulled at the curb and tossed his head aloft, there went up 
a general shout of * Favourite ! ' His beauty told on the 
populace, and even somewhat on the professionals, though the 
legs kept a strong business prejudice against the working 
powers of ' the Guards* crack.' The ladies began to lay 
dozens in gloves on him ; not altogether for his points, which, 
perhaps, they hardly appreciated, but for his owner and rider, 
who, in the scarlet and gold, with the w^hite sash across his 
chest, and a look of serene iiidifference on his face, they con- 
sidered the handsomest man of the field. The Household is 
usually safe to win the suffrages of the sex. 

In the throng on the course Rake instantly bonneted an 
audacious dealer who had ventured to consider that Forest 
King was ' light and curby in the 'ock.' * You're a wise 
un, you are ! * retorted the wrathful and ever-eloquent 
Rake, * there's more strength in his clean flat legs, bless him, 
than in all the round, thick, mill-posts of your half-breds, that 
have no more tendon than a bit of wood, and are just as flabby 
as a sponge ! ' Which hit the dealer home just as his hat was 
hit over his eyes ; Rake's arguments being unquestionable in 
their force. 

The tnoroughbreds pulled and fretted, and swerved in their 
impatience ; one or two over-contumacious bolted incontinently, 

d2 



56 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

others put their heads between their knees in the endeavour to 
draw their riders over their withers ; Wild Geranium reared 
straight upright, fidgeted all over with longing to be off, pas- 
saged with the prettiest, wickedest grace in the world, and 
would have given the world to neigh if she had dared, but she 
knew it would be very bad style, so, like an aristocrat as she 
was, restrained herself ; Bay Regent almost sawed Jimmy Del- 
mar's arms off, looking like a Titan Bucephalus ; while Forest 
King, with his nostrils dilated till the scarlet tinge on them 
glowed in the sun, his muscles quivering with excitement as 
intense as the little Irish mare's, and all his Eastern and 
English blood on fire for the fray, stood steady as a statue for 
all that, under the curb of a hand light as a woman's, but firm 
as iron to control, and used to guide him by the slightest 
touch. 

All eyes were on that throng of the first mounts in the 
Service; brilliant glances by the hundred gleamed down 
behind hot-house bouquets of their chosen colour, eager ones 
by the thousand stared thirstily from the crowded course, the 
roar of the Ring subsided for a second, a breathless attention 
and suspense succeeded it ; the Guardsmen sat on their drags, 
or lounged near the ladies with their race-glasses ready, and 
their habitual expression of gentle and resigned weariness in 
nowise altered, because the Household, all in all, had from 
sixty to seventy thousand on the event, and the Seraph mur- 
mured mournfully to his cheroot, * that chestnut's no end j^iJ,' 
Btroug as his faith was in the champion of the Brigades. 

A moment's good start was caught — the flag dropped — off 
they went sweeping out for the first second like a line of 
Cavalry about to charge. 

Another moment, and they were scattered over the first 
field. Forest King, Wild Geranium, and Bay Regent leading 
for two lengths, when Montacute, with his habitual ' fast 
burst,' sent Pas de Charge past them like lightnicg. The 
Irish mare gave a rush and got alongside of him ; the King 
would have done the same, but Cecil checked him and kept 
him in that cool swinging canter which covered the grassland 
BO lightly ; Bay Regent's vast thundering stride was Olympian, 
but Jimmy Delmar saw his worst foe in the * Guards' crack,' 
and waited on him warily, riding superbly himself. 

The first fence disposed of half the field, they crossed the 
second in the same order, Wild Geranium raoing neck to neck 



THE SOLDIERS' BLUE RIBBON 37 

v^'ith Pas de Charge ; the King was all athirst to join the 
duello, but his owner kept him gently back, saving his pace 
and lifting him over the jumps as easily as a lapwing. The 
second fence proved a cropper to several, some awkward falls 
took place over it, and tailing commenced ; after the third 
field, which was heavy plow, all knocked off but eight, and 
the real struggle began in sharp earnest : a good dozen who 
had shown a splendid stride over the grass being done up by 
the terrible work on the clods. 

The five favourites had it all to themselves ; Day Star 
pounding onward at tremendous speed. Pas de Charge giving 
slight symptoms of distress owing to the madness of his first 
burst, the Irish mare literally flying ahead of him, Forest 
King and the chestnut waiting on one another. 

In the Grand Stand the Seraph's eyes strained after the 
Scarlet and White, and he muttered in his moustaches, * Ye 
Gods, what's up ! The world's coming to an end ! — Beauty's 
turned cautious ! ' 

Cautious, indeed — with that giant of Pytchley fame running 
neck to neck by him; cautious — with two -thirds of the 
course unrun, and all the yawners yet to come ; cautious — 
with the blood of Forest King lashing to boiling heat, and the 
wondrous greyhound stride stretching out faster and faster 
beneath him, ready at a touch to break away and take the 
lead : but he would be reckless enough by-and-by ; reckless, 
as his nature was, under the indolent serenity of habit. 

Two more fences came, laced high and stiff with the Shire 
thorn, and with scarce twenty feet between them, the heavy 
plowed land leading to them, clotted, and black, and hard, 
with the fresh earthy scent steaming up as the hoofs struck 
the clods with a dull thunder. Pas de Charge rose to the 
first : distressed too early, his hind feet caught in a thorn, 
and he came down rolling clear of his rider ; Montacute picked 
him up with true science, but the day was lost to the Heavy 
Cavalry men. Forest King went in and out over both like a 
bird and led for the first time ; the chestnut was not to be 
beat at fencing, and ran even with him ; Wild Geranium flew 
still as fleet as a deer ; true to her sex, she would not bear 
rivalry ; but little Grafton, though he rode fike a professional, 
was but a young one, and went too wildly ; her spirit wanted 
cooler curb. 

And now only, CqcII looaened the King to bis full will 



58 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

and his full speed. Now only, the beautiful Arab head was 
stretched Hke a racer's in the run-in for the Derby, and the 
grand stride swept out till the hoofs seemed never to touch 
the dark earth they skimmed over ; neither whip nor spur 
was needed ; Bertie had only to leave the gallant temper and 
the generous fire that were roused in their might to go their 
way, and hold their own. His hands were low ; his head a 
little back ; his face very calm, the eyes only had a darmg, 
eager, resolute will lighting in them ; Brixworth lay before 
him. He knew well what Forest King could do ; but he did 
not know how great the chestnut Regent's powers might be. 

The water gleamed before them brown and swollen, and 
deepened wdth the meltings of winter snows a month before ; 
the brook that has brought so many to grief over its famous 
banks, since cavaliers leapt it with their falcon on their wrist, 
or the mellow note of the horn rang over the woods in the 
hunting days of Stuart reigns. They knew it well, that long 
dark line, shimmering there in the sunlight, the test that all 
must pass who go in for the Soldiers' Blue Ribbon. Forest 
King scented water, and went on with his ears pointed, and 
his greyhound stride lengthening, quickening, gathering up 
all its force and its impetus for the leap that was before — 
then like the rise and the swoop of a heron he spanned the 
water, and, landing clear, launched forward with the lunge 
of a spear darted through air. Brixworth was passed — the 
Scarlet and AVhite, a mere gleam of bright colour, a mere 
speck iu the landscape, to the breathless crowds Id the stand, 
sped on over the brown and level grassland ; two and a 
quarter miles done in four minutes and twenty seconds. Bay 
Regent was scarcely behind him ; the chestnut abhorred the 
water, but a finer-trained hunter was never sent over the 
Shires, and Jimmy Delmar rode like Grimshaw himself. The 
giant took the leap in magnificent style, and thundered on 
neck and neck with the ' Guards' crack.' The Irish mare 
followed, and with miraculous gameness landed safely ; but 
her hind legs slipped on the bank, a moment was lost, and 
* Baby ' Graftop scarce knew enough to recover it, though 
he scoured on nothing daunted. 

Pas de Charge, much behind, refused the yawner, his 
strength was not more than his courage, but both had been 
strained too severely at first. Montacute struck the spurs 
into him with a savage blow over the head ; the madness was 



THE SOLDIERS' BLUE RIBBON 39 

its own punishment ; the poor brute rose blindly to the jump, 
and missed the bank with a reel and a crash ; Sir Eyre was 
hurled out into the brook, and the hope of the Heavies lay 
there with his breast and forelegs resting on the ground, his 
hind quarters in the water, and his back broken. Pas de 
Charge would never again see the starting-flag waved, or hear 
the music of the hounds, or feel the gallant life throb and 
glow through him at the rallying notes of the horn. His 
race was run. 

Not knowing, or looking, or heeding what happened behind, 
the trio tore on over the meadow and the plowed ; the two 
favourites neck by neck, the game little mare hopelessly be- 
hind through that one fatal moment over Brixworth. The 
turning-flags were passed ; from the crowds on the course a 
great hoarse roar came louder and louder, and the shouts 
rang, changing every second, ' Forest King wins,' ' Bay 
Regent wins,' * Scarlet and White's ahead,' * Violet's up with 
him,' 'Violet's past him,' * Scarlet recovers,' * Scarlet beats,* 
* A cracker on the King,' * Ten to one on the Regent,' * Guards 
are over the fence first,' * Guards are winning,' ' Guards are 
losing.' * Guards are beat ! ! ' 

Were they ? 

As the shout rose, Cecil's left stirrup leather snapped and 
gave way ; at the pace they were going most men, ay, and 
good riders too, would have been hurled out of their saddle 
by the shock ; he scarcely swerved ; a moment to ease the 
King and to recover his equilibrium, then he took the pace 
up again as though nothing had chanced. And his comrades 
of the Household, when they saw this through their race- 
glasses, broke through their serenity and burst into a cheer 
that echoed over the grasslands and the coppices like a clarion, 
the grand rich voice of the Seraph leading foremost and 
loudest — a cheer that rolled mellow and triumphant down the 
cold bright air like the blast of trumpets, and thrilled on 
Bertie's ear where ho came down the course a mile away. It 
made his heart beat quicker with a victorious headlong delight, 
as his knees pressed closer into Forest King's flanks, and, half 
stirrupless hke the Arabs, he thundered forward to the greatest 
riding feat of his life. His face was very calm still, but his 
blood was in tumult, the delirium of pace has got on him, a 
minute of life like this was worth a year, and he knew that 
he would win or die for it, as the land seemed to fly like a 



40 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

black sheet under him, and in that killing speed, fence and 
hedge and double and water all went by him like a dream, 
whirling underneath him as the grey stretches, stomach to 
earth, over the level, and rose to leap after leap. 

For that instant's pause, when the stirrup broke, threatened 
to lose him the race. 

He was more than a length behind the Regent, whose hoofs 
as they dashed the ground up sounded like thunder, and for 
whose herculean strength the plow has no terrors ; it was 
more than the lead to keep now ; there was ground to cover, 
and the King was losing like Wild Geranium. Cecil felt 
drunk with that strong, keen, west wind that blew so strongly 
in his teeth, a passionate excitation was in him, every breath 
of winter air that rushed in its bracing currents round him 
seemed to lash him like a stripe — the Household to look on 
and see him beaten ! 

Certain wild blood that lay latent in Cecil under the tran- 
quil gentleness of temper and of custom, woke, and had the 
mastery ; he set his teeth hard, and his hands clinched like 
steel on the bridle. ' Oh I my beauty, my beauty,' he cried, all 
unconsciously half aloud as they clear the thirty-sixth fence. 
* Kill me if you like, but don't fail me ! ' 

As though Forest King heard the prayer and answered it 
with all his hero's heart, the splendid form launched faster 
out, the stretching stride stretched farther yet with lightning 
spontaneity, every fibre strained, every nerve struggled ; with 
a magnificent bound like an antelope the grey recovered the 
ground he had lost, and passed Bay Regent by a quarter- 
length. It was a neck-to-neck race once more, across the 
three meadows with the last and lower fences that were 
between them and the final leap of all ; that ditch of artificial 
water with the towering double hedge of oak rails and of 
blackthorn that was reared black and grim and well nigh 
hopeless just in front of the Grand Stand. A roar like the 
roar of the sea broke up from the thronged course as the 
crowd hung breathless on the even race ; ten thousand shouts 
rang as thrice ten thousand eyes watched the closing contest, 
as superb a sight as the Shires ever saw while the two ran 
together, the gigantic Chestnut, with every massive sinew 
swelled and strained to tension, side by side with the mar- 
vellous grace, the shining flanks, and the Arabian -like head 
of the Guards* horse. 



THE SOLDIERS' BLUE RIBBON 41 

Louder and wilder the shrieked tumult rose : * The Chest- 
nut beats 1 ' ' The Grey beats 1 ' * Scarlet's ahead ! ' ' Bay 
Regent's caught him ! ' * Violet's winning, Violet's winning ! ' 
* The King's neck by neck ! * * The King's beating 1 * ' The 
Guards will get it ! ' ' The Guards' crack has it ! ' * Not yet, 
not yet! ' 'Violet will thrash him at the jump!' ' Now for 
it I * * The Guards, the Guards, the Guards I ' ' Scarlet will 
win ! * * The King has the finish ! ' * No, no, no, no I ' 

Sent along at a pace that Epsom flat never eclipsed, 
sweeping by the Grand Stand like the flash of electric flame, 
they ran side to side one moment more, their foam flung on 
each other's withers, their breath hot in each other's nostrils, 
while the dark earth flew beneath their stride. The black- 
thorn was in front behind five bars of solid oak, the water 
yawning on its farther side, black and deep, and fenced, twelve 
feet wide if it were an inch, with the same thorn wall beyond 
it; a leap no horse should have been given, no Steward 
should have set. Cecil pressed his knees closer and closer, 
and worked the gallant hero for the test ; the surging roar of 
the throng, though so close, was dull on his ear ; he heard 
nothing, knew nothing, saw nothing but that lean chestnut 
head beside him, the dull thud on the turf of the flying gallop, 
and the black wall that reared in his face. Forest King 
had done so much — could he have stay and strength for 
this? 

Cecil's hands clinched unconsciously on the bridle, and his 
face was very pale — pale with excitation — as his foot where 
the stirrup was broken crushed closer and harder against the 
Grey's flanks. 

* Oh, my darling, my beauty — now I ' 

One touch of the spur — the first — and Forest King rose at 
the leap, all the life and power there were in him gathered 
for one superhuman and crowning effort ; a flash of time, not 
half a second in duration, and he was lifted in the air higher, 
and higher, and higher in the cold, fresh, wild winter wind ; 
stakes and rails, and thorn and water lay beneath him black 
and gaunt and shapeless, yawning like a grave ; one bound, 
even in mid air, one last convulsive impulse of the gathered 
limbs, and Forest King was over ! 

And as he galloped up the straight run-in, he was alone. 

Bay Regent had refused the leap. 

As the Grey swept to the Judge's chair, the air was rent 



42 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

"" ^^ with deafening cheers that seemed to reel like drunken shonta 

^^'" from the multitude. * The Guards win ! the Guards win 1 * 

and when his rider pulled up at the distance with the full 

/ sun shining on the scarlet and white, with the gold glisten of 

/ / the embroidered 'Coeur Vaillant se fait Royaume,' Forest 

j King stood in all his glory, winner of the Soldiers' Blue 

\ Ribbon, by a feat without its parallel in all the annals of the 

1 Gold Vase. 

But as the crowd surged about him, and the mad cheering 
crowned his victory, and the Household in the splendour of 
their triumph and the fulness of their gratitude rushed from 
the drags and the stands to cluster to his saddle, Bertie 
looked as serenely and listlessly nonchalant as of old, while 
he nodded to the Seraph with a gentle smile. 

* Rather a close finish, eh ? Have you any Moselle cup 
going there ? I'm a little thirsty.* 

Outsiders would much sooner have thought him defeated 

■ than triumphant ; no one, who had not known him, could 
; possibly have imagined that he had been successful ; an ordi- 
1 nary spectator would have concluded that, judging by the 

■ resigned weariness of his features, he had won the race 

■ greatly against his own will, and to his own infinite _£n.nui. 
j No one could have dreamt that he was thinking in his heart 
; of hearts how passionately he loved the gallant beast that had 

been victor with him, and that, if he had followed out the 
momentary impulse in him, he could have put his arms round 
the noble bowed neck and kissed the horse like a woman I 

The Moselle cup was brought to refresh the tired champion, 
and before he drank it Bertie glanced at a certain place in 
the Grand Stand and bent his head as the cup touched his 
lips ; it was a dedication of his victory to the Queen of 
Beauty. Then he threw himself hghtly out of saddle, and, 
as Forest King was led away for the after ceremony of 
bottling, rubbing, and clothing, his rider, regardless of the 
roar and hubbub of the course, and of the tumultuous cheers 
that welcomed both him and his horse from the men who 
pressed round him, into whose pockets he had put thousands 
on thousands, and whose ringing hurrahs greeted the * Guards' 
crack,' passed straight up toward Jimmy Delmar and held 
out his hand. 

• You gave me a close thing. Major Delmar. The Vase 



THE SOLDIERS' BLUE RIBBON 43 

is as much yours as mine ; if your Chestnut bad been as good 
a water-jumper as he is a fencer, we should have been neck 
to neck at the finish.' 

The browned Indian-sunned face of the Lancer broke up 
into a cordial smile, and he shook the hand held out to him 
warmly ; defeat and disappointment had cut him to the core, 
for Jimmy was the first riding man of the Light Cavalry ; but 
he would not have been the frank campaigner that he was if 
he had not responded to the graceful and generous overture of 
his rival and conqueror. 

* Oh, I can take a beating,' he said, good-humouredly ; 
*at any rate, I am beat by the Guards, and it is very little 
humiliation to lose against such riding as yours and such a 
magnificent brute as your King. I congratulate you most 
heartily, most sincerely.* 

And he meant it, too. Jimmy never canted, nor did he 
ever throw the blame, with paltry savage vindictiveness, on 
the horse he had ridden. Some men there are — their name 
is legion — who never allow that it is their fault when they 
are ' nowhere ' — oh, no ! it is the * cursed screw ' always, 
according to them. But a very good rider will not tell you 
that. 

Cecil, while he talked, was glancing up at the Grand 
Sta^nd, and when the others dispersed to look over the horses, 
and he had put himself out of his shell into his sealskin in 
the dressing-shed, he went up thither without a moment's 
loss of time. 

He knew them all ; those dainty beauties with their deli- 
cate cheeks just brightened by the western winterly wind, 
and their rich furs and laces glowing among the colours ofu-^ 
their respective heroes; he .j^as — tha--p^-^_them aU..'"^ 
'Beauty' had the suffrages- -xxf- the sex without exception; 
he was received with bright smiles and graceful congratula- 
tions, even from those who had espoused Eyre Montacute's 
cause, and still fluttered their losing azure, though the poor 
hunter lay dead, with his back broken, and a pistol- ball 
mercifully sent through his brains — the martyr to a man's 
hot haste, as the dumb things have ever been since creation 
began. 

Cecil passed them as rapidly as he could for one so well 
received by them, and made his way to the centre of the 



44 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

Stand, to the same spot at which he had glanced when he had 
drunk the Moselle, 

A lady turned to him ; she looked like a rose camellia in 
her floating scarlet and white, just toned down and made 
perfect by a shower of Spanish lace; a beautiful brujiette, 
dashing, yet delicate ; a little fast, yet intensely thorough- 
bred; a .coquette who would smoke a cigarette, yet a peeresa 
who.'^guld never lose her dignity. 

* Au coszir vaillant rien d' impossible I ' she said, with an 
envoi of her lorgnon, and a smile that should have intoxicated 
him — a smile that might have rewarded a Richepanse for 
a Hohenlinden. * Superbly ridden ; I absolutely trembled 
for you as you lifted the King to that last leap. It was 
terrible I * 

It was terrible ; and a woman, to say nothing of a woman 
who was in love with him, might well have felt a heartsick 
fear at sight of that yawning water, and those towering walls 
of blackthorn, where one touch of the hoofs on the topmost 
bough, one spring too short of the gathered limbs, must have 
been death to both horse and rider. But, as she said it, she 
was smiling, radiant, full of easy calm and racing interest, as 
became her ladyship who had had ' bets at even ' before now 
on Goodwood fillies, and could lead the first flight over the 
Belvoir and the Quorn Countries. It was possible that her 
ladyship was too thoroughbred not to see a man killed over 
the oak-rails without deviating into unseemly emotion, or 
being capable of such bad style as to be agitated. 

Bertie, however, in answer, threw the tenderest eloquence 
into his eyes ; very learned in such eloquence. 

' If I could not have been victorious while yon looked on, 
I would at least not have lived to meet you here ! ' 

She laughed a little, so did he ; they were used to ex- 
change these passages in an admirably artistic masquerade, 
but it was always a little droll to each of them to see the 
other wear the domino of sentiment, and neither had much 
credence in the other. 

' What a preux chevalier 1 * cried his Queen of Beauty. 
* You would have died in a ditch out of homage to me. Who 
shall say that chivalry is past ? Tell me, Bertie, is it so very 
delightful that desperate efibrt to break your neck ? It lookg 
pleasant, to judge by its effects. It is the only thing in the 
world that amuses you 1 ' 



V'.^^ 



THE SOLDIERS' BLUE RIBBON 45 

*Well — there is a great deal to be said for it,' replied 
Bertie, musingly. 'You see, until one has broken one's 
neck, the excitement of the thing isn't totally -worn out ; 
can't be, naturally, because the — what-do-you-call-it ? — con- 
summation isn't attained till then. The worst of it is, it's 
getting commonplace, gatting vulgar, such a number break 
their necks, doing Alps and that sort of thing, that we shall 
have nothing at all left to ourselves soon.* 

* Not even the monopoly of sporting suicide ! Very hard,' 
said her ladyship, with the lowest, most languid laugh in the 
world, very like * Beauty's ' own, save that it had a con- 
siderable inflection of studied affectation, of which he, how- 
ever much of a dandy he was, was wholly guiltless. * Well ! 
you won magnificently; that little black man, who is he? 
Lancers, somebody said ? — ran you so fearfully close. I 
really thought at one time that the Guards had lost.' 

' Do you suppose that a man happy enough to wear Ladji ,^, 
Guenevere's colours could lose ? An embroidered scarf giveni^ 
by such hands has been a gage of victory ever since the! 
days of tournaments ! * murmured Cecil with the softest 1 
tenderness, but just enough laziness in the tone and laughter \ 
in the eye to make it highly doubtful whether he was not ) 
laughing both at her and at himself, and was wondering why ' 
the deuce a fellow had to talk such nonsense. Yet she was-^ 
Lad^Lfiii£iLa3^.re, with whom he had been in love ever since 
they stayed together at Belvoir for the Croxton Park week 
the autumn previous ; and who was beautiful enough to make 
their * friendship ' as enchanting as a page out of the * Deca- 
merone.' And while he bent over her, flirting in the fashion 
that made him the darling of the drawing-rooms, and looking 
down into her superb Velasquez eyes, he did not know, and 
if he had known would have been careless of it, that afar off, 
white with rage, and with his gaze straining on to the course 
through his race- glass, Ben Davis, * the Welsher,' who had 
watched the finish — watched the * Guards' crack ' landed 
at the distance — muttered, with a mastiff's savage growl : 

* He wins, does he ? Curse him 1 The d — d Bw ell— be 
shan't win long ! ' ^^^-^x^ 



46 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

CHAPTER IV 

LOVE k LA MODE 

Life was very pleasant at Royallieu. 

It lay in the Melton coiinfeyT^^^'^s^^s equally well placed 
for Pytcbley, Quorn, and Belvoir, besides possessing its own 
smaU but very perfect pack of ' little ladies,' or the * de- 
moiselles,' as they were severally nicknamed ; the game was 
closely preserved, pheasants were fed on Indian corn till 
they were the finest birds in the country, and in the little 
winding paths of the elder and bilberry coverts thirty first- 
rate shots, with two loading-men to each, could find flock and 
feather to amuse them till dinner, with rocketers and warm 
corners enough to content the most insatiate of knicker- 
bcckered gunners. The stud was superb ; the cook, a French 
artist of consummate genius, who had a brougham to his own 
use, and wore diamonds of the firct water ; in the broad 
beech- studded grassy lands no lesser thing than doe and deer 
ever swept through the thick ferns in the sunlight and the 
shadow ; a retinue of powdered servants filled the old halls, 
and guests of highest degree dined m its stately banqueting- 
room, with its scarlet and gold, its Vandykes and its Vernets 
) ^and yet — there was terribly little money at Royallieu with it 
W all. Its present luxury was purchased at the cost of the 
M yv^uture, and the parasite of extravagance was constantly sap- 
V ping, unseen, the gallant old Norman-planted oak of the 
I _family-tree. But then, who thought of that? Nobody. It 
was the way of the Hou«e never to take count of the morrow. 
True, any one of them would have died a hundred deaths 
rather than have had one acre of the beautiful green diadem 
of woods felled by the axe of the timber contractor, or passed 
to the hands of a stranger ; but no one among them ever 
thought that this was the inevitable end to which they surely 
drifted with blind and unthinking improvidence. The old 
Viscount, haughtiest of haughty nobles, would never abatr^ one 
jot of his accustomed magnificence ; and his sons had but 
imbibed the teaching of all that surrounded them : they did 
but do in manhood what they had been unconsciously moulded 
to do in boyhood when they were sent to Eton at ten with 



LOVE A LA MODE 47 

gold dressing-boxes to grace their Dame's tables, embryo 
Dukes for their co-fags, and tastes that already knew to a 
nicety the worth of the champagnes at the Christopher. The 
ojd, old- atoryrr-how it repeats itself 1 Boys grow up amid, 
profuse prodigality, and are launched into a world wherej 
they can no more arrest themselves, than the feather-weight \ 
can pull in the lightning stride of the two-year old, who defies \ 
all check, and takes the flat as he chooses. They are brought \ 
up like young Dauphins, and tossed into the costly whirl to 1 
float as best they can — on nothing. Then, on the lives and 
deaths that follow ; on the graves where a dishonoured alien | 
lies forgotten by the dark Austrian lake- side, or under the / /' 
monastic shadow of some crumbling Spanish crypt ; where a / 
red cross chills the lonely traveller in the virgin solitudes 
of Amazonian forest aisles, or the wild scarlet creepers of y, 
Australia trail over a nameless mound above the trackless ^"^ 
stretch of sun-warmed waters — then at them the world ' shoots "^ 
out its lips with scorn.* Not on them lies the blame. v^ 

A wintry, watery sun was shining on the terraces as Lord S> 
Royallieu paced up and down the morning after the Grand 
Military ; his step and limbs excessively enfeebled, but the 
carriage of his head and the flash of his dark hawk's eyes as 
proud and untamable as in his earliest years. He never left 
his own apartments ; and no one, save his favourite * little 
Berk,' ever went to him without his desire. He was too 
sensitive a man to thrust his age and ailing health in among 
the young leaders of fashion, the wild men of pleasure, the 
good wits and the good shots of his son's set ; he knew very 
well that his own day was past ; thai they would have listened 
to him out of the patience of courtesy, but that they would 
have wished him away as * no end of a bore.' He was too 
shrewd not to know this ; but he was too quickly galled ever 
to bear to have it recalled to him. 

He looked up suddenly and sharply : coming towards him 
he saw the figure of the Guardsman. For ' Beauty ' the 
Viscount had no love ; indeed, wellnigh a hatred, for a reason 
never guessed by others, and never betrayed by him. 

Bertie was not like the Royallieu race ; he resembled his 
mother's family. She, a beautiful and fragile creature whom 
her second son had loved, for th« first years of his life, as he 
would have thought it now impossible that he could love any 
one, had married the Viscount, with no affection towards him. 



48 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

\\ hile he had adored her with a fierce and jealous passion that 

her indifference only inflamed. Throughout her married life, 

however, she had striven to render loyalty and tenderness 

towards a lord into whose arms she had been thrown, trembling 

arid reluctant ; of his wife's fidelity he could not entertain a 

doubt, though that he had never won her heart he could not 

choose but know. He knew more, too ; for she had told it 

him with a noble candour before he wedded her ; knew that the 

man she did love was a penniless cousin, a cavalry officer, who 

had made a famous name among the wild mountain tribes 

. of Northern India. This cousin, Alan Bertie — a^ fearless and 

\^ chiv^r-ous soldier, fitter for the days of knighthood than for 

these— had seen Lady Royallieu at Nice, some three years 

after her marriage; accident had thrown them across each 

other's path ; the old love, stronger, perhaps, now than it had 

ever been, had made him linger in her presence — had made 

her shrink from sending him to exile. Evil tongues at last 

had united their names together ; Alan Bertie had left the 

woman he idolised lest slander should touch her through him, 

and fallen two years later under the dark dank forests on the 

desolate moorside of the hills of Hindostan, where long before 

he had rendered * Bertie's Horse ' the most famous of all the 

/"wild Irregulars of the East. 

V>*' After her death. Lord Royallieu found Alan's miniature 

p among her papers, and recalled those winter months by the 

cj Mediterranean till he cherished, with the fierce, eager, self- 

x^:' torture of a jealous nature, doubts and suspicions that, during 

^ . her life, one glance from her eyes would have disarmed and 

t •' abashed. Her second and favourite child bore her family name 

l^ I — her late lover's name ; and in resembling her race, re- 

1 sembled the dead soldier. It was sufficient to make him hate 

' Bertie with a cruel and savage detestation, which he strove 

■ indeed to temper, for he was by nature a just man, and, in his 

' better moments, knew that his doubis wronged both the living 

and the dead; but which coloured, too strongly to be dis- 

" sembled, all his feelings and his actions towards his son, and 

might both have soured and wounded any temperament less 

nonchalantly gentle and supremely careless than Cecil's. 

As it was, Bertie was sometimes surprised at his father's 
dislike to him, but never thought much about it, and attri- 
buted it, when he did think of it, to the caprices of a tyrannoui 
old man. To be jealous of the favour shown to his boyish 



LOVE A LA MODE 49 

brother could never for a moment have come into his imagina- 
tion. Lady Royallieu with her last words had left the little' 
fellow, a child of three years old, to the affection and the care! 
of Bertie — himself then a boy of twelve or fourteen — and! 
little as he thought of such things now, the trust of his dying! , 
mother had never been wholly forgotten. w J 

A heavy gloom came now over the Viscount's still hand- 
some aquiline, saturnine face, as his second son approached 
up the terrace ; Bertie was too like the cavalry soldier whose 
form he had last seen standing against the rose light of a 
Mediterranean sunset. The soldier had been dead eight- and- 
twenty years ; but the jealous hate was not dead yet. 

Cecil took off his hunting-cap with a courtesy that sat very 
well on his habitual languid nonchalance ; he never called his 
father anything but * Royal ; ' rarely saw, still less rarely con- 
sulted him, and cared not a straw for his censure or opinion ; 
but he was too thoroughbred by nature to be able to follow 
the underbred indecorum of the day which makes disrespect to 
old age the fashion. * You sent for me ? ' he asked, taking the 
cigar out of his mouth. 

*No, sir,' answered the old lord, curtly, 'I sent for your 
brother. The fools can't take even a message right now, it 
seems.' 

' Shouldn't have named us so near alike ; it's often a bore I ' 
said Bertie. 

' I didn't name you, sir ; your mother named you,* 
answered his father, sharply ; the subject irritated him. 

* It's of no consequence which ! ' murmured Cecil, with 
an expostulatory wave of his cigar. * We're not even asked 
whether we like to come into the world ; we can't expect to 
be asked what we like to be called in it. Good day to you, 
sir.' 

He turned to move away to the house ; but his father stopped 
him ; he knew that he had been discourteous — a far worse 
crime in Lord Eoyallieu's eyes than to be heartless. 

* So you won the Vase yesterday ? ' he asked, pausing in his 
walk with his back bowed, but his stem, silver-haired head 
firect 

'7 didn't ; the King did.' 

' That's absurd, sir,' said the Viscount, in his resonant and 
yet melodious voice. * The finest horse in the world may have 
his back broke by bad riding, and a screw has won before no^f 

E 



50 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

when it's been finely handled. The finish was tight, wasn't 
it?' 

* Well — rather. I have ridden closer spins, though. The 
fallows were light.' 

Lord Royallieu smiled grimly. 

*I know what the Shire ''plow " is like,' he said, with a 
flash of his falcon eyes over the landscape, where, in the 
days of his youth, he had led the first flight so often, George 
Rex, and Waterford, and the Berkeieys, and the rest follow- 
ing the rally of his hunting-horn. ' You won much in bets ? * 

* Very fair. Thanks.' 

* And won't be a shilling richer for it this day next week 1 ' 
retorted the Viscount, with a rasping, grating irony ; he could 
not help darting savage thrusts at this man who looked at him 
with eyes so cruelly like Alan Bertie's. ' You play 51. points, 
and lay 600Z. on the odd trick, I've heard, at your whist in the 
Clubs — pretty prices for a younger son ! ' 

f , * Never bet on the odd trick : spoils the game ; makes you 
C^sacrifice play to the trick. We always bet on the game,' said 
I Cecil, with gentle weariness ; the sweetness of his temper was 
^proof against his father's attacks upon his patience. 

* No matter what you bet, sir ; you live as if you were a 
Rothschild, while you are a beggar ! ' 

* Wish I were a beggar : fellows always have no end in stock, 
they say ; and your tailor can't worry you very much when 
all you have to think about is an artistic arrangement of 
tatters 1 ' murmured Bertie, whose impenetrable serenity was 
never to be rufiled by his father's bitterness. 

* You will soon have your wish, then,' retorted the Viscount, 
with the unprovoked and reasonless passion which he vented 
on every one, but on none so much as the son he hated. 
* You are on a royal road to it. I live out of the world, but I 
hear from it, sir. I hear that there is not a man in the 
Guards — not even Lord Rockingham — who lives at the rate of 
imprudence you do ; that there is not a man who drives such 
costly horses, keeps such costly mistresses, games to such 
desperation, fools gold away with such idiocy as you do. You 
conduct yourself as if you were a millionaire, sir, and what are 
you ? A pauper on my bounty, and on your brother Montagu's 
after me — a pauper with a tinsel fashion, a gilded beggary, 
» Queen's commission to cover a sold-out poverty, a dandy's 



LOVE A LA MODE 51 

reputation to stave off a defaulter's future! A pauper, sir — 
and a Guardsman ! ' 

Tiie coarse and cruel irony flashed out with wicked scorch- 
ing malignity, lashing and upbraiding the man who was the 
victim of his own unwisdom and extravagance. 

A slight tinge of colour came on his son's face as he heard, 
but he gave no sign that he was moved, no sign of impatience 
or anger. He lifted his cap again, not in irony, but with a 
grave respect in his action that was totally contrary to his 
whole temperament. 

* This sort of talk is very exhausting — very bad style,' he 
said, with his accustomed gentle murmur. * I will bid you 
good morning, my lord.' 

And he went without another word. Crossing the length of 
the old-fashioned Elizabethan terrace, little Berk passed him ; 
he motioned the lad towards the Viscount. * Royal wants to 
see you, young one.' 

The boy nodded and went onward ; and as Bertie turned to 
enter the low door that led out to the stables, he saw his father 
meet the lad — meet him with a smile that changed the whole 
character of his face, and pleasant kindly words of affectionate 
welcome, drawing his arm about Berkeley's shoulder, and 
looking with pride upon his bright and gracious youth. 

More than an old man's preference would be thus won by 
the young one ; a considerable portion of their mother's for- 
tune, so left that it could not be dissipated, yet could be willed 
to which son the Viscount chose, would go to his brother by, < 
this passionate partiality ; but there was not a tinge of jealousy 5 
in Cecil. Whatever else his faults, he had no mean ones, and l 
the boy was dear to him, by a quite unconscious yet unvary-J 
ing obedience to his dead mother's wish. 

* Royal hates me as game-birds hate a red dog. Why the 
deuce, I wonder ? ' he thought, with a certain slight touch of 
pain, despite his idle philosoj)hies and devil-may-care indiffer- 
ence. * Weli^iowL gPP4 ^or nothing, I suppose. Certainly 
I am not good for much, unless it. Vnding and making love.* 

With which summary of his merits, ' Beauty,' who felt him- 
self to be a master in those two arts, but thought himself a 
bad fellow out of them, sauntered away to join the Seraph and 
the rest of his guests, his father's words pursuing him a 
little despite his carelessness, for they had borne an unwelcome 
measure of truth. 

e2 



52 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

* Royal can hit hard,' his thoughts contiuued. 'A pauper 
and a Guardsman ! By Jove ; it's true enough ; but he made 
me so. They brought me up as if I had a miUion coming to 
me, and turned me out among the cracks to take my running 
with the best of them — and they give me iust about what 
pays my groom's book ! Then they wonder that a fellow goes 
to the Jews. Where the deuce else can he go ? ' 

And Bertie — whom his gains the day before had not much 
benefited, since his play-debts, his young brother's needs, and 
the Zu-Zu's insatiate little hands were all stretched ready to 
devour them without leaving a sovereign for more serious 
liabilities — went, for it was quite early morning, to act the 
M.F.H.in his father's stead at the meet on the great lawns before 
the house, for the Royallieu ' lady pack ' were very famous in 
the Shires, and hunted over the same country alternate days 
with the Quorn. They moved off ere long to draw the Holt 
Wood, in as open a morning, and as strong a scenting wind as 
ever favoured Melton Pink. 

A whimper and * gone away ! ' soon echoed from Beebyside, 
and the pack, not letting the fox hang a second, dashed after 
hhn, making straight for Scraptoft. One of the fastest things 
up-wind that hounds ever ran took them straight through the 
Spinnies, past Hamilton Farm, away beyond Burkby village, 
and down into the valley of the Wreake without a check, where 
he broke away, was headed, tried earths, and was pulled down 
Bcarce forty minutes from the find. The pack then drew 
Hungerton foxholes blank, drew Carver's spinnies without a 
whimper; and lastly, drawing the old familiar Billesdon Coplow, 
had a short quick burst with a brace of cubs, and returning, 
settled themselves to a fine dog-fox that was raced an hour- 
and-half, hunted slowly for fifty minutes, raced again another 
hour-and-quarter, sending all the field to their * second horses ; ' 
and after a clipping chase through the cream of the grass 
country, nearly saved his brush in the twilight when scent was 
lost in a rushing hailstorm, but had the ' little ladies ' laid on 
again like wildfire, and was killed with the * who-whoop ! ' ring- 
ing far and away over Glenn Gorse, after a glorious run — 
thirty miles in and out — with pace that tried the best of them. 

A better day's sport even the Quorn had never had in all 
its brilliant annals, and faster things the Melton men them- 
Bclvos had never wanted : both those who love the * quickest 
ihing you ever kiiew — thirty minutes without a cheok —such 



LOVE A LA MODE 53 

a pace I * and care little whether the finale be ' killed * or 
'broke away,' and those of older fashion, who prefer 'long 
day, you know, steady as old time, the beauties stuck like 
wax through fourteen parishes as I live ; six hours if it were a 
minute ; horses dead beat ; positively walked, you know, no end 
of a day I ' but must have the fatal * who-whoop ' as conclusion 
— bothof these, the Vnew style and the old,' could not but be con- 
tent with the doings of the * Demoiselles ' from start to finish^.^ 

Was it likely that Cecil remembered the caustic lash of his ' 
father's ironies while he was lifting Mother of Pearl over 
the posts and rails, and sweeping on, with the halloo ringing 
down the wintry wind as the grasslands flew beneath him V 
Was it likely that he recollected the difficulties that hung 
above him while he was dashing down the Gorse happy as a 
king, with the wild hail driving in his face, and a break of 
stormy sunshine just welcoming the gallant few who were 
landed at the death, as twilight fell ? Was it likely that he 
could unlearn all the lessons of his life, and realise in how 
near a neighbourhood he stood to ruin when he was drinking 
Regency sherry out of his gold flask as he crossed the saddle 
of his second horse, or, smoking, rode slowly homeward, Cf 
chatting with the Seraph through the leafless muddy lanes in / 
the gloaming ? . . -i? * 

Scarcely. It is very easy to remember our difficulties "v ' 
when we are eating and drinking them, so to speak, in bad ^ 
soups, and worse wines in continental impecuniosity — sleeping > 
on them as rough x\ustralian shakedowns, or wearmg theiii ^ ^ 
perpetually in Californian rags and tatters, it were impossible j 
very well to escape from them then ; but it is very hard to v 
remember them when every touch paid shape of life is pleasant 
to us — when everything about us is symbolical and redolent 
of wealth and ease — when the art of enjoyment is the only 
one we are called on to study, and the science of pleasure all 
we are asked to explore. 

It is wellnigh impossible to believe yourself a beggar while 
you never want sovereigns for whist : and it would be beyond 
the powers of human nature to conceive your ruin irrevocable, 
while you still eat turbot and terrapin with a powdered giant 
behind your chair daily. Up in his garret a poor wretch 
Imows very well what he is, and realises in stern fact the 
extremities of the last sou, the last shirt, and the last hope : 
but in these devil-may-care pleasures — in this pleasant, reck- 



54 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

less, velvet-soft rush down-hill — in this club-palace, with 
every luxury that the heart of man can devise and desire, 
yours to command at your will — it is hard work, then, to 
grasp the truth that the crossing-sweeper yonder, in the dust 
of Pall Mall, is really not more utterly in the toils of poverty 
than you are ! 

* Beauty ' was never, in the whole course of his days, 
virtually or physically, or even metaphorically, reminded that 
he was not a millionaire ; much less still was he ever re- 
mmded so painfully. 
r Life petted him, pampered him, caressed him, gifted him, 
though of half his gifts he never made use ; lodged him like 
a prince, dined him like a king, and never recalled to him by 
a single privation or a single sensation that he was not as rich 
a man as his brother-in-arms, the Seraph, future Duke of 
Lyonnesse. How could he then bring himself to understand, 
as nothing less than truth, the grim and cruel insult his father 
\ had flung at him in that brutally bitter phrase — * A Pauper 
\ and a Guardsman ' ? If he had ever been near a compre- 
liension of it, which he never was, he must have ceased to 
realise it when — pressed to dine with Lord Guenevere, near 
whose house the last fox had been killed, while a groom 
dashed over to Hoyallieu for his change of clothes — he caught 
a glimpse, as they passed through the hall, of the ladies taking 
their preprandial cups of tea in the library, an enclianting 
group of lace and silks, of delicate hue and scented hair, 
of blonde cheeks and brunette tresses, of dark velvets and 
gossamer tissue ; and when he had changed the scarlet for 
dinner- dress, went down among them to be the darling of 
that charmed circle, to be smiled on and coquetted with by 
those soft, languid aristocrats, to be challenged by the lustrous 
eyes of his chatelaine and chere amie, to be spoiled as women 
will spoil the privileged pet of their drawing-rooms whom 
they have made * free of the guild,' and endowed with a 
flirting commission, and acquitted of anything ' serious.' 

He was the recognised darling, and permitted property, of 
the young married beauties ; the unwedded knew he was 
hopeless for them, and tacitly left him to the more attractive 
conquerors, who hardly prized the Seraph so much as they 
did Bertie, to sit in their barouches and opera-boxes, ride and 
drive, and yacht with them, conduct a Boccaccio intrigue 
through the height of the season, and make them really be- 



LOVE A LA MODE 55 

lieve themselves actually in love V7hile they were at the moors 
or down the Nile, and would have given their diamonds to get 
a new distraction. 

Lady Guenevere was the last of these, his titled and 
wedded captors ; and perhaps the most resistless of all of 
them. Neither of them believed very much in their attach- / 
ment, but both of them wore the masquerade dress to per-V 
fection. He had fallen in love with her as much as he ever 
fell in love, which was just sufficient to amuse him, and never 
enough to disturb him. He let himself be fascinated, not 
exerting himself either to resist or advance the affair till he 
was, perhaps, a little more entangled with her than it was 
according to his canons expedient to be ; and they had the 
most enchanting — friendship. 

Nobody was ever so indiscreet as to call it anything else ; 
and my Lord was too deeply absorbed in the Alderney 
beauties that stood knee-deep in the yellow straw of his farm- 
yard, and the triumphant conquests that he gained over his .v^ 
brother peers' Shorthorns and Suffoliis, to trouble his head ^jj^ 
about Cecil's attendance on his beautiful Countess. -4y 

They corresponded in Spanish; they had a thousand _^,,^ 
charming ciphers ; they made the columns of the Times andv'' 
the Post play the unconscious role of medium to appoint- 
ments ; they eclipsed all the pages of Calderon's or Congreve's 
comedies in the ingenuities with which they met, wrote, got 
invitations together to the same houses, and arranged signals 
for mute communication ; but there was not the slightest 
occasion for it all. It passed the time, however, and wentj 
far to persuade them that they really were in love, and had a' 
mountain of difficulties and dangers to contend with ; it 
added the ' spice to the sauce,' and gave them the * relish of 
being forbidden.' Besides, an open scandal would have been 
very shocking to her brilliant ladyship, and there was 
nothing on earth, perhaps, of wbich he would have had a 
more lively dread than a ' scene ; ' but his present * friendship ' 
was delightful, and presented no such dangers, while his fair 
' friend ' was one of the greatest beauties and the greatest 
coquettes of her time. Her smile was honour ; her fan was 
a sceptre ; her face was perfect ; and her heart never troubled 
herself or her lovers : if she had a fault, she was a trifle 
exacting, but that was not to be wondered at in one so omni- 
potent, and her chains after all were made of roses. 



56 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

As she sat in the deep ruddy glow of the library fire, with 
the light flickering on her white brow and her violet velvets ; 
as she floated to the head of her table, with opals shining 
among her priceless point laces, and some tropical flower with 
leaves of glistening gold crowning Hei'^ bronze hair ; as she 
glided down'ih'a waltz along the polished floor, or bent her 
proud head over ecart^ in a musing grace that made her 
opponent utterly forget to mark the king or even play his 
cards at all ; as she talked in the low music of her voice jof 
European imbroglio and consols and coupons, for she was a 
politician and a speculator, or lapsed into a beautifully tinted 
study of la femw,e incomprisef when time and scene suited, 
when the sbars were very clear above the terraces without, 
and the conservatory very solitary, and a touch of Musset or 
Owen Meredith chimed in well with the light and shade of 
the oleanders and the brown lustre of her own eloquent 
glance — in all these how superb she was i 

And if in truth her bosom only fell with the falling of 
Shares, and rose with the rising of Bonds ; if her soft shadows 
were only taken up like the purple tinting under her lashes 
to embellish her beauty ; if in her heart of hearts she thought 
Musset a fool, and wondered why Lucille was not written in 
prose, in her soul far preferring Le Follet ; why — it did not 
matter that I can see. All great ladies gamble in stock now- 
I adays under the rose, and women are for the most part as 
1 cold, clear, hard, and practical as their adorers believe them 
Ithe contrary ; and a femme incomprise is so charming when 
she avows herself comprehended by you, that you would 
never risk spoiling the confidence by hinting a doubt of its 
truth. If she and Bertie only played at love ; if neither 
believed much in the other ; if each trifled with a pretty 
gossamer soufflet of passion much as they trifled with their 
soufQets at dinner ; if both tried it to trifle away ennui much 
as they tried staking a Friederich d'Or at Baden, this light 
surface fashionable philosophic form of a passion they both 
laughed at in its hot and serious follies, suited them admi- 
rably. Had it ever mingled a grain of bitterness in her 
ladyship's Souchong before dinner, or given an aroma of bit- 
\ terness to her lover's Naples punch in the smoking-room, it 
I would have been out of all keeping with themselves and their 
I world. 

Nothing on earth is so pleasant as being a little in bve ; 



LOVE A LA MODE 57 

nothing on earth so destructive as being too much so ; and a3 
Cecil in the idle enjoyment dT the former gentle luxury 
flirted with his liege lady that night, lying back in the softest 
of lounging-chairs, with his dark, dreamy, handsome eyes 
looking all the eloquence in the world, and his head drooped 
till his moustaches were almost touching her laces, his Queen 
of Beauty listened with charmed interest, and to look at him 
he might have been praying after the poet — 

How is it under our control 
To love or not to love ? 

In real truth he was gently murmuring — 

* Such a pity that you missed to-day ! Hounds found 
directly ; three of the fastest things I ever knew, one after 
another ; you should have seen the "Uttle ladies " head him 
just above the Gorse ! Three hares crossed us and a fresh 
fox ; some of the pack broke away after the new scent, but 
old Bluebell, your pet, held on like death, and most of them 
kept after her — you had your doubts about Silver Trumpet's 
shoulders ; they're not the thing, perhaps, but she ran beau- 
tifully all day, and didn't show a symptom of rioting.' 

Cecil could, when needed, do the Musset and Meredith 
style of thing to perfection, but on the whole he preferred 
love d la mode ; it is so much easier and less exhausting to 
tell your mistress of a ringing run, or a close finish, than to 
turn perpetual periods on the lustre of her eyes, and the 
eternity of your devotion. 

Nor di^ it -at all interfere with the sincerity of his worship 
that the /Zu-Zu was at the prettiest little box in the world, 
in the neighbourhood of Market Harborough, which he had 
taken for her, and had been at the meet that day in her little 
toy trap with its pair of snowy ponies and its bright blue 
liveries that drove so desperately through his finances, and 
had ridden his hunter Maraschino with immense dash and 
spirit for a youiig^JMy, J\vliQ„liad never done anything but "^ 
pirouette tilTlhe last six months, and a total and headlong ■ 
disregard of * purlers,' very reckless in a white-skinned, 
bright-eyed, illiterate, avaricious Httle beauty, whose face 
was her fortune, and who most assuredly would have been 
adored no single moment longer had she scarred her fair 
tinted cheek with the blackthorn, or started as a heroine with 
a broken nose like Fielding's cherished Ameha. The Zu-Zu 



58 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

rarght rage, might sulk, might pout, might even swear all 
\^ sorts of naughty Mabille oaths, most villanously pronounced, 
at the ascendency of her haughty unapproachable patrician 
rival — she did do all these things — but Bertie would not 
have been the consummate tactician, the perfect flirt, the 
skilled and steeled campaigner in the boudoirs that he was, 
if he had not been equal to the delicate task of managing 
both the peeress and the ballet-dancer with inimitable ability, 
even when they placed him in the seemingly difficult dilemma 
of meeting them both with twenty yards between them on 
the neutral ground of the gathering to see the Pytchley or the 
Tailby throw off — a task he had achieved with victorious 
brilliance more than once already this season. 

• You drive a team, Beauty — never drive a team,' the 
Seraph had said on occasion over a confidential ' sherry-peg ' 
in the mornings, meaning by the metaphor of a team Lady 
Guenevere, the Zu-Zu, and various other contemporaries in 
Bertie's affections. ' Nothing on earth so dangerous ; your 
leader will bolt, or your off- wheeler will turn sulky, or your 
young one will passage and make the very deuce of a row ; 
they'll never go quiet to the end, however clever your hand 
is on the ribbons. Now, I'll drive six-in-hand as soon as 
any man — drove a ten-hander last year in the Bois — when 
the team comes out of the stables ; but I'm hanged if I'd risk 
my neck with managing even a pair of women. Have one 
clean out of the shafts before you trot out another ! ' 

To which salutary advice Cecil only gave a laugh, going on 
his own ways with the * team ' as before, to the despair of 
his fidus Achates ; the Seraph, being a quarry so incessantly 
pursued by dowager-beaters, chaperon-keepers, and the 
whole hunt of the Matrimonial Pack, with those clever 
hounds Belle and Fashion ever leading in full cry after him, 
that he dreaded tlie sight of a ball-room meet ; and, shunning 
the rich preserves of the Salons, ran to earth persistently in 
the shady Wood of St. John's, and got — at some little cost 
and some risk of trapping, it is true, but still efficiently — 
preserved from all other hunters or poachers by the lawless 
Robin Hoods aux yeux noirs of those welcome and familiar 
coverts. 



UNDER THE KEEPER'S TREE §9 



CHAPTER V 

UNDER THE KEEPER'S TREE 

* You're a lad 0' wax, my beauty I ' cried Mr. Rake 
enthusiastically, surveying the hero of the Grand Military 
with adoring eyes as that celebrity, without a hair turned or 
a muscle swollen from his exploit, was having a dressing 
down after a gentle exercise, * You've pulled it off, haven't 
you ? You've cut the work out for 'em ! You've shown 'em 
what a luster is ! Strike me a loser, but what a deal there is 
in blood ! The littlest pippin that ever threw a leg across the 
pigskin knows that in the stables : then why the dickens do 
the world run against such a plain fact owi of it ? ' 

And Rake gazed with worship at the symmetrical limbs of 
the champion of the 'First Life/ and_ plunged into_.specu- 
latioH-On the democratic tendencies of the age as clearly con- 
tradicted by all the evidences of the flat and furrow, while. 
Forest King drank a dozen go-downs of water, and was 
rewarded for the patience with which he had subdued his 
inclination to kick, fret, spring, and break away throughout 
the dressing by a full feed thrown into his crib, which 
Rake watched him with adoring gaze eat to the very last 
grain. 

' You precious one 1 ' soliloquised that philosopher, who 
loved the horse with a sort of passion since his victory over 
the Shires. * What a lot o' enemies you've been and gone 
and made 1 — that's where it is, my boy ; nobody can't never 
forgive Success. All them fielders have lost such a sight of 
money by you ; them bookmakers have had such a lot of pots 
upset by you ; bless you I if you were on the flat you'd be 
doctored or roped in no time. You've won for the gentlemen, 
my lovely — for your own cracks, my boy — and that's just 
what they'll never pardon you.* 

And Rake, rendered almost melancholy by his thoughts (he 
liked the * gentlemen * himself), went out of the box to get 
into saddle and ride off on an errand of his master's to the 



6o UNDER TWO FLAGS 

A/ Zu-Zu at her tiny hunting-lodge, where the enow-white 
y .. ponies made her stud, and where she gave enchanting little 
S ( hunting-dinners, at which she sang equally enchanting little 
' hunting-songs, and arrayed herself in the Fontainebleau hunt- 
ing costume, gold-hilted knife and all, and spent Cecil's 
winnings for him with a rapidity that threatened to leave 
' very few of them for the London season. She was very 
\ pretty — sweetly pretty — with that wanted no gold powder ; 
^ the clearest, sauciest eyes, and the handsomest mouth in the 
world ; but of grammar she had not a notion, of her aspirates 
she had never a recollection, of conversation she had not an 
idea, of slang she had, to be sure, a rtptrtoire^ but to this was 
her command of language limited. She dres§§d perfectly, 
|x but„Bhe _was a v^gar- Uttle soul ; drank everything, from 
^-^.^ Bass's ale to rum-punch, and from cherry-brandy to absinthe ; 
^^^-^ thought it the height of wit to stifle you with cayenne slid 
' ,}(- into your vanille ice, and the climax of repartee to cram your 
'^ hat full of peach stones and lobster shells ; was thoroughly 
^- avaricious, thoroughly insatiate, thoroughly heartless, pillaged 
^/y with both hands, and flien never had enough ; had a coarse 
^ I good nature when it cost her nothing, and was ' as jolly as a 
j^ grig,' according to her phraseology, so long as she could stew 
c"^ her pigeons in champagne, drink wines and liqueurs that 
C^ were beyond price, take the most dashing trap in the Park 
jj^^ up to Flirtation Corner, and laugh and sing and eat Rich- 
, y^'' 'mond dinners, and show herself at the Opera with Bertie or 
^^.'S"bmG other * swell ' attached to her, in the very box next to 
^'^,c\ a Duchess. 

^-^l The Zu-Zu was perfectly happy ; and as for the pathetic 

\ pictures that novelists and moralists draw, of vice sighing 

' amid turtle and truffles for childish innocence in the cottage 

at home where honeysuckles blossomed and brown brooks 

made melody, and passionately grieving on the purple cushions 

of a barouche for the time of straw pallets and untroubled 

sleep, why — the Zu-Zu would have vaulted herself on the 

box-seat of a drag, and told you ' to stow all that trash ! ' 

Her childish recollections were of a stifling lean-to with the 

odour of pigsty and strawyard, pork for a feast once a week, 

starvation all the other six days, kicks, slaps, wrangling, and 

a general atmosphere of beer and waslitubs ; she hated her 

past, and loved her cigar on the drag. The Zu-Zu is fact 

ir thejnoralists' jjictures are moonshine. 



UNDER THE KEEPER'S TREE 6i 

The Zu-Zu is an openly acknowledged fact, moreover^^J 
daily becoming more prominent in the world, more brilliant, ^ 
more frankly recognised, and more omnipotent. Whether 
this will ultimately prove for the better or the worse, it would 
be a bold man who should dare say ; there is at least one 
thing left to desire in it — i.e. that the synonym of * Aspasia,' 
which serves so often to designate in journalistic literature 
these Free Lances of life, were more suitable in artistic and 
intellectual similarity, and that when the Zu-Zu and her 
sisterhood plunge their white arms elbow-deep into so many 
fortunes, and rule the world right and left as they do, theyjf 
could also sound their H's properly, and know a little ortho-j "* ^^ 
graphy, if they could not be changed into such queens, of 
grace, of intellect, of sovereign mind and splendid wit as were 
their prototypes when she whose name they debase held her 
rule in the City of the Violet Crown, and gathered about her 
Phidias the divine, haughty and eloquent Antipho, the gay 
Crates, the subtle Protagoras, Cratinus so acrid and yet soUi^t 
jovial, Damon of the silver lyre, and the great poets who ^ 
are poets for all time. Author and artist, noble and soldier,*^ 
court the Zu-Zu order now as the Athenians courted their 
brilliant kToXpo.i ; but it must be confessed that the Hellenic 
idols were of a more exalted type than are the Hyde Park ' 
goddesses ! 

However, the Zu-Zu was the rage, and spent Bertie's 
money, when he got any, just as her wilful sovereignty 
fancied, and Rake rode on now with his master's note,-, 
bearing no very good will to her ; for Rake had very strong i 
prejudices, and none stronger than against these fair pillagers j 
who went about seeking whom they should devour, and I ( 
laughing at the wholesale ruin that they wrought while the j I 
Bentimentalists babbled in * Social Science ' of ' pearls lost 'J \ 
and * innocence betrayed.' ■• 

* A girl that used to eat tripe and red herring in a six-pair 
back, and dance for a shilling a night in gauze, coming it so 
grand that she'll only eat asparagus in March, and drink the 
best Brands with her truffles ! Why, she ain't worth sixpence 
thrown away on her, unless it's worth while to hear how hard 
she can swear at you I ' averred Rake, in his eloquence ; and 
he was undoubtedly right for that matter : but then — the 
Zu-Zu was the rage, and if ever she should be sold up, great 
ladies would crowd to her sale and buy with eager curiosity 



62 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

at high prices her most trumpery pots of pomatum, her most 
flimsy gew-gaws of marqueterie ! 

Rake had seen a good deal of men and manners, and, in 
his own opinion at least, was ' up to every dodge on the 
cross* that this iniquitous world could unfold. A bright, 
lithe, animated, vigorous, yellow-haired, and sturdy fellow, 
seemingly with a dash of the Celt in him that made him 
vivacious and peppery, Mr. Rake polished his wits quite 
as much as he polished the tops, and considered himself a 
philosopher. Whose son he was he had not the remotest 
idea ; his earliest recollections were of the tender mercies of 
the workhouse ; but even that chill fostermother, the parish, 
had not damped the liveliness of his temper or the independ- 
ence of his opinions, and as soon as he was fifteen Rake had 
run away and joined a circus, distinguishing himself there by 
his genius for standing on his head and tying his limbs into 
a porter's knot. 

From the circus he migrated successively into the shape of 
a comic singer, a tapster, a navvy, a bill-sticker, a guacho in 
Mexico (working his passage out), a fireman in New York, a 
ventriloquist in Maryland, a vaquero in Spanish California, 
a lemonade-seller in San Francisco, a revolutionist in the 
Argentine (without the most distant idea what he fought for), 
a boatman on the Bay of Mapiri, a blacksmith in Santarem, 
a trapper in the Wilderness, and finally, working his passage 
home again, took the Queen's shilling in Dublin, and was 
jdrafted into a light-cavalry regiment. With the — th he 
served half a dozen years in India, a rough-rider, a splendid 
fellow in a charge or a pursuit, with an astonishing power 
over horses, and the clearest back-handed sweep of a sabre 
that ever cut down a knot of nrtives ; hut — insubordinate. 
Do his duty whenever fighting was in question, he did most 
zealously ; but to kick over the traces at other times was a 
temptation that at last became too strong for that lawless 
lover of liberty. 

From the moment that he joined the regiment, a certain 
Corporal Warne and he had conceived an antipathy to one 
another, which Rake had to control as he might, and which 
the Corporal was not above indulging in every petty piece of 
tyranny that his rank allowed him to exercise. On active 
service Rake was, by instinct, too good a soldier not to manage 
to ke(*p the curb on himself tolerably well, though he was 



UNDER THE KEEPER'S TREE 63 

always regarded in his troop rather as a hound that will 
' riot ' is regarded in the pack ; but when the — th came 
back to Brighton and to barracks, the evil spirit of rebellion 
began to get a little hotter in him under the Corporal's 
' Idees Napol^oniennes * of justifiable persecution. Warne 
indisputably provoked his man in a cold, iron, strictly lawful 
sort of manner, moreover, all the more irritating to a temper 
like Rake's. 

* Hanged if I care how the officers come it over me ; 
they're gentlemen, and it don't try a fellow,' would Rake say 
in confidential moments over purl and a penn'orth of bird's- 
eye, his experience in the Argentine RepubUc having left him 
with stron^ljjiristocratic prejudices ; * but when it comes to 
a duffer like that, that knows no better than me, what ai7i't a 
bit better than me, and what is as clumsy a duffer about a 
horse's plates as ever I knew, and would a'most let a young 
'un buck him out of his saddle, why then I do cut up rough, 
I ain't denying it, and I don't see what there is in his Stripes 
to give him such a license to be aggravating.' 

With which Rake would blow the froth off his pewter with 
a puff of concentrated wrath, and an oath against his non- 
commissioned officers that might have let some light in upon 
the advocates for ' promotion from the ranks ' had they been 
there to take the lesson. At last, in the leisure of Brighton, 
the storm broke. Rake had a Scotch hound that was the 
pride of his life, his beer-money often going instead to buy 
dainties for the dog, who became one of the channels through 
which Warne could annoy and thwart him. The dog did no 
harm, being a fine, well-bred deerhound ; but it pleased the 
Corporal to consider that it did, simply because it belonged 
to Rake, whose popularity in the corps, ov/ing to his good 
nature, his good spirits, and his innumerable tales of 
American experiences and amorous adventures, increased 
the jealous dislike which his knack Vv'ith an unbroken colt 
and his abundant stable science had first raised in his 
superior. 

One day in the chargers* stables the hound ran out of a 
loose box with a rush to get at Rake, and upset a pailful of 
warm mash. The Corporal, who was standing by in harness, 
hit him over the head with a heavy whip he had in his hand ; 
infuriated by the pain, the dog flew at him, tearing his over- 
alls with a fierce crunch of his teeth. * Take the brute off, 



64 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

and string him up with a halter ; I've put up with him too 
long ! ' cried AVarne to a couple of privates working near in 
their stable dress. Before the words were out of his mouth 
Rake threw himself on him with a bound Hke lightning, and, 
wrenching the whip out of his hands, struck him a slashing 
stinging blow across his face. 

* Hang my hound, you cur 1 If you touch a hair of him 
I'll double-thong you within an inch of your life ! * 

And assuredly he would have kept his word had he not 
been made a prisoner and marched off to the guard-room. 

Rake learnt the stern necessity of the law, which, for the 
sake of morale, must make the soldiers, whose blood is wanted 
to be like fire on the field, patient, pulseless, and enduring of 
every provocation, cruelty, and insolence in the camp and the 
barrack, as though they were statues of stone — a needful 
law, a wise law, an indispensable law, doubtless, but a very 
hard law to be obeyed by a man full of life and all life's 
passions. 

At the court-martial on his mutinous conduct, which fol- 
lowed, many witnesses bronglit evidence, on being pressed, 
to the unpopularity of Warne in the regiment, and to his 
harshness and his tyranny to Eake. Many men spoke out 
what had been chained down in their thoughts for years ; 
and, in consideration of the provocation received, the prisoner, 
who was much liked by the officers, was condemned to six 
months' imprisonment for his insubordination and blow to his 
superior officer, without being tied up to the triangles. At 
the court-martial, Cecil, who chanced to be in Brighton after 
Goodwood, was present one day with some other Guardsmen, 
and the look of Rake, with his cheerfulness under difficulties, 
his love for the hound, and his bright, sunburnt, shrewd, 
humorous countenance, took his fancy. 

* Beauty ' was the essence of good nature. Indolent him- 
self, he hated to see anything or anybody worried ; lazy, 
gentle, wayward, and spoilt by his own world, he was still 
never so selfish and philosophic as he pretended but what he 
would do a kindness if one came in his way ; it is not a very 
great virtue, perhaps, but it is a rare one. 

' Poor devil 1 struck the other because he wouldn't have 
his dog hanged. Well, on my word I should have done the 
same in his place, if I could have got up the pace for so much 
exertion,' murmured Cecil to his cheroot, careless of the 



UNDER THE KEEPER'S TREE 65 

demoralising tendency of his remarks for the army in general. 
Had it occurred in the Guards, and he had * sat ' on the case, 
Rake v\^ould have had one very lenient judge. 

As it was, Bertie actually went the length of thinking 
seriously about the matter ; he liked Eake's devotion to his 
dumb friend, and he heard of his intense popularity in hia 
troop ; he wished to save, if he could, so fine a fellow froin 
the risks of his turbulent passion, and from the stern fetters 
of a trying discipline ; hence, when Rake found himself con- 
demned to his cell, he had a message sent him by Bertie's 
groom that when his term of punishment should bs over, Mr. 
Cecil would buy his discharge from the Service and engage 
him as extra body-servant, having had a good account of his 
capabilities ; he had taken the hound to his ov/n kennels. 

Now, the fellow had been thoroughly devil-may-care through- 
out the whole course of the proceedings, had heard his sentence 
with sublime impudence, and had chaffed his sentinels wdth 
an utterly reckless nonchalance ; but somehow or other, when .\..@^ 
that message reached him, a vivid sense that he was a con- ^ ^,v 



demned and disgraced man suddenly flooded in on him ; a V*^ 
passionate gratitude seized him to the young aristocrat who i^^l 
had thought of him in his destitution and condemnation, v/ho '. 



had even thought of his dog ; and Rake, the philosophic and / ^ ^ 
the undauntable, could have found it in his heart to kneel ^ ^v* 
down in the dust and kiss the stirrup-leather when he held it y^ 
for his new master, so strong was the loyalty he bore from that | 
moment to Bertie. T»\^ \ 

Martinets were scandalised at a Life Guardsman taking as ^ ^^^ 
his private valet a man who had been guilty of such conduct '*' 
in the Light Cavalry; but Cecil never troubled his head about 
what people said ; and so invaluable did Rake speedily become 
to him, that he had kept him about his person wherever he 
went from then until now, t^vo years after. 

Rake loved his master with a fidelity very rare in these 
days ; he loved his horses, his dogs, everything that was his, 
down to his very rifle and boots, slaved for him cheerfully, and 
was as proud of the deer he stalked, of the brace he bagged, 
of his winnings when the Household played the Zingari, of 
his victory when his yacht won the Cherbourg Gup, as though 
those successes had been Rake's own. 

* My dear Seraph,' said Cecil himself once on this point to 
the Marquis, 'if you want generosity, fidelity, and all the 



66 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

rest of the cardinal what-d'ye-call-ems — sins, ain't it 7 — go to 
a noble-hearted Scamp ; he'll stick to you till he kills himself. 
If you want to be cheated, get a Respectable Immaculate ; 
he'll swindle you piously, and decamp with your Doncaster 
Vase.' 

And Rake, who assuredly had been an out-and-out scamp, 
made good Bertie's creed ; he * stuck to him ' devotedly, and 
no terrier was ever more alive to an otter than he was to the 
Guardsman's interests. It was that very vigilance which 
made him, as he rode back from the Zu-Zu's in the twilight, 
notice what would have escaped any save one who had been 
practised as a trapper in the red Canadian woods, namely, the 
head of a man almost hidden among the heavy though leafless 
brushwood and the yellow gorse of a spinney which lay on 
his left in Roy allien Park. Rake's eyes were telescopic and 
nicroscopic ; moreover, they had been trained to know such 
little signs as a marsh from a hen harrier in full flight, by 
the length of wing and tail, and a widgeon or a coot from a 
mallard or a teal, by the depth each swam out of the water. 
Grey and foggy as it was, and high as was the gorse, Rake 
recognised his born-foe Willon. 

' What's he up to there ? ' thought Rake, surveying the 
place, which was wild, solitary, and an unlikely place enough 
for a head groom to be found in. ' If he ain't a rascal, I 
never see one ; it's my belief he cheats the stable thick and 
thin, and gets on Mr. Cecil's mounts to a good tune — ay, and 
would nobble 'em as soon as not, if it just suited his book ; 
that blessed King hatas the man ; how he lashes his heels at 
him ! ' 

It was certainly possible that Willon might be passing an 
idle hour in potting rabbits, or be otherwise innocently en- 
gaged enough ; but tb<^ sight of him there among the gorse 
was a sight of suspicion to Rake. Instantaneous thoughts 
darted through his mind of tethering his horse, and making a 
reconnaissance safely and unseen with the science at stalking 
brute or man tliat he had learnt of his friends the Sioux. But 
second thoughts showed him this was impossible. The horse 
he was on was a mere colt just breaking in, who had barely 
had so much as a * dumb jockey ' on his back, and stand for a 
second the colt would not. 

* At any rate, I'll unearth him,' thought Rake, with hia 
latent animosity to the head groom, and his vigilant loyalty 



UNDER THE KEEPER'S TREE 67 

to Cecil overruling any scruple as to his right to overlook his 

foe's movements : and with a gallop that was muffled on the 
heather'd turf he dashed straight at the covert unperceived 
till he was within ten paces. Willon started and looked up 
hastily ; he was talking to a square-built man very quietly 
dressed in shepherd's plaid, chiefly remarkable by a red-hued 
beard and whiskers. 

The groom turned pale, and laughed nervously as Eake 
pulled up with a jerk. 

* You on that young 'un again ? Take care you don't get 
bucked out o' saddle in the shape of a cocked hat.' 

' I ain't afraid of going to grass, if you are ! ' retorted Eake, 
scornfully ; boldness was not his enemy's strong point. ' Who's 
your pal, old fellow ? ' 

* A cousin o' mine, out o' Yorkshire,* vouchsafed Mr. Willon, 
looking anything but easy, while the cousin aforesaid nodded 
sulkily on the introduction. 

' Ah I looks like a Yorkshire tyke,' muttered Rake, with a 
volume of meaning condensed in these innocent words. ' A 
nice, dry, cheerful sort of place to meet your cousin in, too ; 
uncommon lively ; hope it'll raise his spirits to see all his 
cousins a-grinning there; his spirits don't seem much in sorts 
now,' continued the ruthless inquisitor, with a glance at the 
* keeper's tree ' by which they stood, in the middle of dank 
undergrowth, whose branches were adorned with dead cats, 
curs, owls, kestrels, stoats, weasels, and martens. To what 
issue the passage of arms might have come it is impossible to 
say, for at that moment the colt took matters into his own 
hands, and bolted with a rush, that even Rake could not pull 
in till he had had a mile-long * pipe-opener.* 

' Something up there,' thought that sagacious rough-rider ; 
' if that red-haired chap ain't a rum lot, I'll eat him. I've 
seen his face, too, somewhere ; where the deuce was it ? 
Cousin ; yes, cousins in Queer Street, I dare say ! Why 
should he go and meet his "cousin" out in the fog there, 
when if you took twenty cousins home to the servants' hall 
nobody'd ever say anything ! If that Willon ain't as deep as 
Old Harry- 



And Rake rode into the stable-yard, thoughtful and in 

5e: 
in 



tensoly suspicious of the rendezvous under the keeper's trea^ 
in the outlying coverts. He would have been more so had "7 
he guessed that Ben Davis's red beard and demure attire, / 



V2 



T/v^r' 



68 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

I with other as efficient disguises, had prevented even his own 
I keen eyes from penetrating the identity of Willon's * cousin ' 
I with the Welsher he had seen thrust off the course the day 
before by his master.* 



CHAPTER VI 

*^ THE END OP A RINGING RUN 

Tally-ho 1 is the word, clap spurs and let's follow, 
The world has no charm like a rattling view-halloa I 

Is hardly to be denied by anybody in this land of fast bursts 
and gallant M.F.H.'s, whether they * ride to hunt,' or 
* hunt to ride,* in the immortal distinction of Assheton 
Smith's old whip : the latter class, by the bye, becoming far 
and away the larger, in these days of rattling gallops and 
desperate breathers. Who cares to patter after a sly old dog- 
fox, that, fat and wary, leads the pack a tedious interminable 
wind in and out through gorse and spinney, bricks himself 
up in a drain, and takes an hour to be dug out, dodges about 
till twilight, and makes the hounds pick the sceiit slowly and 
wretchedly over marsh and through water ? Who would not 
give fifty guineas a second for the glorious thirty minutes of 
racing that show steam and steel over fence and fallow in a 
y^^clipping rush without a check from find to finish ? So be it 
^ Vever ! The Tiding 'that graces the Shires, that makes Ted- 
^i\ worth and Pytchley, ihe Dukes and the Fitzwilliamses, 
^'' : household words and 'names beloved,' that fills Melton and 
, i. Market Harborough, and makes the best flirts of the ball- 
^ V, room gallop fifteen miles to covert, careless of hail or rain, 
^ mire or slush, mist or cold, so long as it is a fine scenting 
wind, is the same riding that sent the Six Hundred down 
y: into the blaze of the Muscovite guns, that in our father's daya 
gave to Grant's Hussars their swoop, like eagles, on to the 
rear-guard at Morales, and that in the grand old East and 
the rich trackless West, makes exiled campaigners with high 
English names seek and win an aristeia of their own at the 



THE END OF A RINGING RUN €g 

head of their wild Irregular Horse, who would charge heU 
itself at their bidding. 

Now in all the Service there was not a man who loved* 
hunting better than Bertie. Though he was incorrigibly 
lazy, and inconceivably effeminate in every one of his habits ; 
though he suggested a portable lounging-chair as an improve- 
ment at battues so that you might shoot sitting, drove to 
every breakfast and garden party in the season in his brougham, 
with the blinds down, lest a grain of dust should touch him ; 
thought a waltz too exhaustive, and a saunter down Pall Mall 
too tiring, and asked to have the end of a novel told him in 
the clubs because it was too much trouble to read on a warm 
day — though he was more indolent than any spoiled Creole, 

• Beauty * never failed to head the first flight, and adored a 
hard day cross country, with an east wind in his eyes and the 
sleet in his teeth. The only trouble was to make him get up 
in time for it. 

* Mr. Cecil, sir, if you please, the drag will be round in 
ten minutes,' said Eake, with a dash of desperation for the 
seventh time into his chamber, one fine scenting morning. 

' I don't please,' answered Cecil, sleepily, finishing his cup 
of coffee, and reading- a novel of La Demirep's. 

* The other gentlemen are all down, sir, and you will be 
too late.' 

* Not a bit. They must wait for me,' yawned Bertie. 
Crash came the Seraph's thunder on the panels of the 

door, and a strong volume of Turkish through the keyhole: 

* Beauty, Beauty, are you dead ? ' 

' Now, what an inconsequent question ! ' expostulated 
Cecil, with appealing rebuke. If a fellow were dead, how 
the devil could he say he v/as ? Do be logical, Seraph.' 

* Get up ! ' cried the Seraph with a deafening rataplan, and 
a final dash of his colossal stature into the chamber. We've 
all done breakfast ; the traps are coming round ; you'll be an 
hour behind tmie at the meet.' 

Bertie lifted his eyes with plaintive resignation from the 
Demirep's yellow-papered romance. 

* I'm really in an interesting chapter : Aglae has just had 
a marquis kill her son, and two brothers kill each other in ^ 
the Bois, about her, and is on the point of discovering a raan 
Bhe's in love with to be her own grandfather ; the complica- 
tion is absolutely thrilling,' murmured Beauty, whom nothing 



\%o^ 



70 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

/could ever * thrill,* not even plunging down the Matterhorn, 
I losing 'long odds in thou' ' over the Oaks, or being sunned in 
^he eyes of the fairest woman in Europe. 
^ The Seraph laughed, and tossed the volume straight to the 
other end of the chamber. ^^^^^^ 

' Confound you, Beauty, get up 1 * -' 

* Never swear, Seraph, not ever so mildly,' yawned Cecil. 
* It's gone out, you know ; only the cads and the clergy can 
damn one nowadays ; it's such bad style to be so impulsive. 
Look ! you have broken the back of my Demirep ! ' 

* You deserve to break the King's back over the first 
cropper,' laughed the Seraph. * Do get up ! ' 

' Bother,' sighed the victim, raising himself with reluctance, 
while the Seraph disappeared in a cloud of Turkish. 

Neither Bertie's indolence nor his insouciance was assumed ; 
utter carelessness was his nature, utter impassibihty was hia 
habit, and he was truly for the moment loth to leave his bed., 
his coffee and his novel ; he must have his leg over the 
saddle, and feel the strain on his arms of that * pulling ' pace 
with which the King always went when once he settled into 
his stride, before he would really think about winning. 

The hunting breakfasts of our forefathers and of our present 
squires found no favour with Bertie ; a slice of game and a 
glass of Cura9oa were all he kept the drag waiting to swallow, 
and the four bays going at a pelting pace, he and the rest of 
the Household who were gathered at Royallieu were by good 
luck in time for the throw-oli* of the Quorn, where the hero of 
the blue ribbon was dancing impatiently under Willon's 
hand, scenting the fresh, keen, sunny air, and knowing as 
well what all those bits of scarlet straying in through field 
and lane, gate and g£ip, meant, as well as though the merry 
notes of the master's horn were winding over the gorse. The 
meet was brilliant and very large, showing such a gathering 
as only the Melton Country can ; and foremost among the 
crowd of carriages, hacks, and hunters, were the beautiful roan 
mare Vivandiere of the Lady Guenevere, mounted by that 
exquisite peeress in her violet habit, and her tiny velvet hat ; 
and tht, pony equipage of the Zu-Zu, all glittering with azure 
and silver, leopard rugs, and snowy reins: the breadth of 
half an acre of grassland was between them, but the groups 
of men about them were tolerably equal for number and for 
rank. 



THE END OF A RINGING RUN 71 

• Take Zu-Zu off my hands for this morning, Seraph, 
there's a good fellow,' inurniured Cecil, as he swung himself 
into saddle. The Seraph gave a leonine growl, sighed, and 
acquiesced. He detested women in the hunting-field, but 
that sweetest-tempered giant of the Brigades never refused 
anything to anybody — much less to * Beauty.' 

To an uninitiated mind it would have seemed marvellous-^ 
and beautiful in its combination of simplicity and intricacy, \ ^ 
to have noted the delicate tactics with which Bertie conducted ' 
himself between his two claimants — bending to his Countess^ 
with a reverent devotion that assuaged whatever of incensed' "^ ^ 
perception of her unacknowledged rival might be silently l^j^ 
lurking in her proud heart; wheeling up to the pony-trap ^.'j 
under cover of speaking to the men from Egerton Lodge, and y 
restoring the Zu-Zu from sulkiness, by a propitiatory offer of ,^^;- 
a little gold sherry-flask, studded with turquoises, just ordered 
for her from Regent Street, which, however, she ungraciously 
contemned, because she thought it had only cost twenty 
guineas ; anchoring the victimised Seraph beside her by an 
adroit * Ah I by-the-way. Rock, give Zu-Zu one of your rose- 
scented jpai^elitos ; she's been wild to smoke them ; ' and 
leaving the Zu-Zu content at securing a future Duke, was 
free to canter back and flirt on the off-side of Vivandiere, till 
the * signal,' the ' cast,' made with consummate craft, the 
waving of the white sterns among the brushwood, the tighten- 
ing of girths, the throwing away of cigars, the challenge, the 
whimper, and the ' stole away ! ' sent the field headlong down 
the course after as fine a long-legged greyhound fox as ever 
carried a brush. 

Away he went in a rattling spin, breaking straight at once 
for the open, the hounds on the scent like mad : with a tally- 
ho that thundered through the cloudless, crisp, cold, glittering 
noon, the field dashed off pell-mell, the violet habit of her 
ladyship, and the azure skirts of the Zu-Zu foremost of all in 
the rush through the spinneys ; while Cecil on the King, and 
the Seraph on a magnificent white weight-carrier, as thorough- 
bred and colossal as himself, led the way with them. The 
Bcent was hot as death in the spinneys, and the pack raced till 
nothing but a good one could live with them ; fsw but good 
ones, however, were to be found with the Quorn, and the 
field held together superbly over the first fence, and on across 
the grassland, the game old fox giving no sign of going to 



7« UNDER TWO FLAGS 

covert, but running straight as a crow flies, while the pace 
grew terrific, 

* Beats cock-fighting ! ' cried the Zu-Zu, while her blue 
skirts fluttered in the wind, as she lifted Cecil's brown mare, 
very cleverly, over a bilberry hedge, and set her little white 
teeth with a will on the Seraph's otto-of-rose cigarette. Lady 
Guenevere heard the words as Vivandiere rose in the air with 
the light bound of a roe, and a slight superb dash of scorn 
came into her haughty eyes for the moment ; she never seemed 
to know that ' that person ' in the azure habit even existed, 
but the contempt awoke in her, and shone in her glance, 
while she rode on as that fair leader of the Belvoir and Pytch- 
ley alone could ride over the fallows. 

The steam was on at full pressure, the hounds held close to 
his brush, heads up, sterns down, running still straight as an 
arrow over the open, past coppice and covert, through gorse 
and spinney, without a sign of the fox making for shelter. 
Fence and double, hedge and brook, soon scattered the field ; 
straying off far and wide, and coming to grief with lots of 
* downers,' it grew select, and few but the crack men could 
keep the hounds in view. ' Catch 'em who can ' was the 
one mot d'ordre, for they were literally racing, the line- 
hunters never losing the scent a second, as the fox, taking to 
dodging, made all the trouble he could for them through the 
rides of the woods. Their working was magnificent, and, 
heading him, they ran him round and round in a ring, viewed 
him for a second, and drove him out of covert once more into 
the pastures, while they laid on at a hotter scent and flew 
after him like staghounds. 

Only half a dozen were up with them now ; the pace was 
tremendous, though all over grass ; here a flight of posts and 
rails tried the muscle of the boldest ; there a bullfinch yawned 
behind the blackthorn ; here a big fence towered ; there a 
brook rushed angrily among its rushes ; while the keen 
easterly wind blow over the meadows, and the pack streamed 
along like the white trail of a plume. Cecil * showed the 
v/ay * with the self-same stride and the self-same fencing as 
liad won him the Vase. Lady Guenevere and the Seraph 
were running almost even with him ; three of the Household 
farther down ; the Zu-Zu and some Melton men two meadows 
off; the rest of the field, nowhere. Fifty-two minutes had 
gone by in that splendid running, without a single check, 



THE END OF A RINGING RUN 7j 

while the fox raced as gamely and as fast as at the find ; the 
speed was like lightning past the brown woods, the dark- 
green pine plantations, the hedges, bright with scarlet berries ; 
through the green low-lying grasslands, and the winding 
drives of coverts, and the boles of ash-hued beech-trunks, 
whose roots the violets were just purging with their blossom ; 
while far away stretched the blue haze of the distance, and 
above-head a flight of rooks cawed merrily in the bright air, 
soon left far off as the pack swept onward in the most brilliant 
thing of the hunting year. 

* Water ! take care ! * cried Cecil, with a warning wave of 
his hand as the hounds with a splash like a torrent dashed up 
to their necks in a broad brawling brook that Reynard had 
swam in first style, and struggled as best they could after 
him. It was an awkward bit, with bad taking off and a vil- 
lainous mud-bank for landing ; and the water, thickened and 
swollen with recent rains, had made all the land that sloped 
to it miry 8,nd soft as sponge. It was the risk of life and limb 
to try it ; but all who still viewed the hounds, catching Bertie's 
shout of warning, worked their horses up for it, and charged 
towards it as hotly as troops charge a square. Forest King 
was over like a bird ; the winner of the Grand Military was 
not to be daunted by all the puny streams of the Shires ; 
the artistic riding of the Countess landed Vivandik'e, with a 
beautiful clear spring, after him by a couple of lengths ; the 
Seraph's handsome white hunter, brought up at a headlong 
gallop with characteristic careless dash and fine science 
mingled, cleared it ; but, falling with a mighty crash, gave 
him a purler on the opposite side, and was within an ace of 
striking him dead with his hoof in frantic struggles to recover. 
The Seraph, however, was on his legs with a rapidity mar- 
vellous in a six-foot-three son of Anak, picked up the horse, 
threw himself into saddle, and dashed off again quick as 
lightning, with his scarlet stained all over, and his long fair 
moustaches floating in the wind. The Zu-Zu turned Mother 
o' Pea^rl back with a fiery French oath ; she hated to be ' cut 
down,* but she liked still less to risk her neck ; and two of 
the Household were already treated to * crackers ' that dis- 
abled them for the day, while one Melton man was pitched 
head-foremost into the brook, and another was sitting dolor- 
ously on the bank vvith his horse's head in his lap, and the 
poor brute's spine broken. There were only three of the first 



74 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

riders in England now alone with the hounds, who, with a 
cold scent as the fox led them through the angular corner of a 
thick pheasant covert, stuck like wax to the line, and working 
him out, viewed him once more, for one wild, breathless, tan- 
talising second, and, on a scent breast-high, raced him with 
the rush of an express through the straggling street of a little 
hamlet, and got him out again on the level pastures and across 
a fine line of hunting country, with the leafless woods and the 
low gates of a park far away to the westward. 

' A guinea to a shilling that we kill him,' cried the flute- 
voice of her brilliant ladyship, as she ran a moment side by 
side with Forest King, and flashed her rich eyes on his rider ; 
she had scorned the Zu-Zu, but on occasion she would use 
betting slang and racing slang with the daintiest grace in the 
world herself without their polluting her lips. As though the 
old fox heard the wager, he swept in a bend round towards 
the woods on the right, making, with all the craft and the 
speed there were in him, for the deep shelter of the boxwood 
and laurel. * After him, my beauties, my beauties — if he 
run there he'll go to ground and save his brush 1 ' thundered 
the Seraph as though he were hunting his own hounds at 
Lyonnesse, who knew every tone of his rich clarion notes as 
well as they knew every wind of his horn. But the young 
ones of the pack saw Re^-nard's move and his meaning as 
quickly as he did ; having run fast before, they flew now : the 
pace was terrific. Two fences were crossed as though they 
were paper ; the meadows raced with lightning speed, a ha-ba 
leaped, a gate cleared with a crashing jump, and in all the 
furious excitement of *view' they tore down the mile-long 
length of an avenue, dashed into a flower-garden, and, smash- 
ing through a gay trellis-work of scarlet creeper, plunged into 
the home-paddock and killed with as loud a shout ringing 
over the country in the bright sunny day as ever was echoed 
by the ringing cheers of the Shire ; Cecil, the Seraph, and 
her victorious ladyship alone coming in for the glories of the 
'finish.' 

' Never had a faster seventy minutes up-wind,' said Lady 
Guenevere, looking at the tiny jewelled watch, the size of a 
sixpence, that was set in the handle of her whip, as the brush, 
with all the compHments customary, was handed to her. She 
had won twenty before. 

The park, so unceremoniously entered, belonged to a baronei^ 



THE END OF A RINGING RUN 75 

who, though he hunted little hhnself, honoured the sport and 
scorned a vulpecide ; he came out naturally and begged them 
to lunch. Lady Guenevere refused to dismount, but con- 
sented to take a biscuit and a little Lafitte, while clarets, 
liqueurs, and ales, with anything else they wanted, w^ere 
brought to her companions. The stragglers strayed in ; the 
M.F.H. came up just too late. The men getting down, 
gathered about the Countess or lounged on the grey stone steps 
of the Elizabethan house. The sun shone brightly on the 
oriel casements, the antique gables, the twisted chimneys, all 
covered with crimson parasites and trailing ivy ; the horses, 
the scarlet, the pack in the paddock adjacent, the shrubberies 
of laurel and araucaria, the sun-tinted terraces, made a 
bright and picturesque grouping. Bertie, with his hand on 
Vivandiere's pommel, after taking a deep draught of spark- 
ling Rhenish, looked on at it all with a pleasant sigh of amuse- 
ment. 

'By Jove,' he murmured softly, with a contented smile 
about his lips, * that was a ringing run I ' 

At that very moment, as the words were spoken, a groom 
approached him hastily. His young brother, whom he had 
scarcely seen since the find, had been thrown and taken home 
on a hurdle ; the injuries were rumoured to be serious. M 

Bertie's smile faded ; he looked very grave : world- spoiled* 
as he was, reckless in everything, and egotist though he hady 
long been by profession, he loved the lad. 

When he entered the darkened room, with its faint chloro- 
form odour, the boy lay like one dead, his bright hair scattered 
on the pillow, his chest bare, and his right arm broken and 
splintered. The deathlike coma was but the result of the 
chloroform ; but Cecil never stayed to ask or remember that ; 
he was by the couch in a single stride, and dropped down by 
it, his head bent on his arms. 

' It is my fault, I should have looked to him.' 

Tlie words were very low ; he hated that any should see he 
could still be such a fool as to feel. A minute, and he con- 
quered himself; he rose, and with his hand on the boy's fair 
tumbled curls, turned calmly to the medical men who, attached 
to the household, had been on the spot at once. 

* What is the matter ? ' 

' Fractured arm, contusion, nothing serious, nothing at all, 



76 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

at his age,' replied the surgeon ; when he wakes out of the 
lethargy he will tell you so himself, Mr. Cecil.' 

* You are certain ? ' — do what he would his voice shook a 
little ; his hand had not shaken, two days before, when nothing 
less than ruin or ransom had hung on his losing or v;inning 
the race. 

* Perfectly certain,' answered the surgeon cheerfully. * He 
is not over-strong, to be sure, but the contusions are slight ; 
he will be out of that bed in a fortnight.' 

' How did he fall ? ' 

But while they told him he scarcely heard ; he was looking 
at the handsome Antinous-like form of the lad as it lay 
stretched helpless and stricken before him ; and he was re- 
membering the deathbed of their mother, when the only 
voice he had ever reverenced had whispered, as she pointed 
to the little child of three summers : * When you are a man, 
take care of him, Bertie.' How had he fulfilled the injunc- 
tion ? Into how much brilliantly tinted evil had he not led 
him — by example at least ? 

The surgeon touched his arm apologetically, after a length- 
ened silence : 

' Your brother will be best unexcited when he comes to 
himself, sir ; look — his eyes are unclosing now. Could you 
do me the favour to go to his lordship ? His grief made him 
perfectly wild — so dangerous to his life at his age. We could 
only persuade him to retire, a few minutes ago, on the plea 
of Mr. Berkeley's safety. If you could see him ' 

Cecil went, mechanically almost, and with a grave, weary 
depression on him ; he was so unaccustomed to think at all, 
BO utterly unaccustomed to think pamfully, that he scarcely 
knew what ailed him. Had he had his old tact about him, 
he would have known how worse than useless it would be for 
him to seek his father in such a moment. 

Lord Royallieu was lying back exhausted as Cecil opened 
the door of his private apartments, heavily darkened and 
heavily perfumed; at the turn of the lock he started up 
eagerly. 

' What news of him ? ' 

'Good news, I hope,' said Cecil gently, as he came for- 
ward. * The injuries are not grave, they tell me. I am so 
Borry that I never watched his fencing, but * 

The old man had not recognised him till he heard his vcice, 



THE END OF A RINGING RUN 77 

and he waved him off with a fierce contemptuous gesture; 
the grief for his favourite's danger. The wild terrors that his 
fears had conjured up, his almost frantic agony at the sight of 
the accident, had lashed him into passion wellnigh delirious, 

' Out of my sight, sir,* he said fiercely, his mellow tonejj 
quivering with rage. * I wish to God you had been dead in 
a ditch before a hair of my boy's had been touched. You 
live, and he hes dying there ! * 

Cecil bowed in silence ; the brutahty of the words wounded, 
but they did not offend him, for he knew his father was in 
that moment scarce better than a maniac, and he was touched 
with the haggard misery upon the old Peer's face. 

* Out of my sight, sir,' re-echoed Lord Royallieu as he 
strode forward, passion lending vigour to his emaciated frame, 
while the dignity of his grand carriage blent with the furious 
force of his infuriated blindness. ' If you had had the heart 
of a man you would have saved such a child as that from his 
peril ; warned him, watched him, succoured him at least when 
he fell. Instead of that, you ride on and leave him to die, 
if death comes to him ! You are safe — you are always safe. 
You try to kill yourself with every vice jnder heaven, and 
only get more strength, more grace, more pleasure from it — 
you are always safe because I hate you. Yes 1 I hate you, 
sir ! ' 

No words can give the force, the malignity, the concen- 
trated meaning with which the words were hurled out, as the 
majestic form of the old Lord towered in the shadow, with 
his hands outstretched as if in imprecation. 

Cecil heard him in silence, doubting if he could hear aright, 
while the bitter phrases scathed and cut like scourges ; but he 
bowed once more with the manner that was as inseparable 
from him as his nature. 

* Hate is so very exhausting ; I regret I give you the 
trouble of it. May I ask why you favour me v/ith it ? ' 

* You may ! ' thundered his father, while his hawk's eyes 
flashed their glittering fire. * You are like the man I cursed 
living and curse dead. You look at me with Alan Bertie's i 
eyes, you speak to me with Alan Bertie's voice ; I loved your 
mother, I worshipped her ; but — you are his son, not mine ! ' 

The secret doubt, treasured so long, was told at last. The 
blood flushed Bertie's face a deep and burning scarlet ; ha \ 
started with an irrepressible tremor, like a man struck with j 



78 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

/ 

^ a shot, he felt like one suddenly stabbed in the dark by a 
sure and a cruel hand. The insult and the amazement of the 
words seemed to paralyse him for the moment ; the next he 
recovered himself, and lifted his head with a^ haughty a 
gesture as his father's ; his features were perfectly composed 

i again, and sterner than in all his careless, easy life they ever 

1 yet had looked. 

\ * You lie, and you know that you lie. My mother was 

\ pure as the angels. Henceforth you can be only to me a 

' slanderer who has dared to taint the one name holy in my 

I sight.' 

"* And without another word he turned and went out of the 
chamber. Yet, as the door closed, old habit was so strong on 
him that, even in his hot and bitter pain, and his bewildered 
sense of sudden outrage, he almost smiled at himself. * It 
is a mania ; he does not know what he says,' he thought. 
^ ' How could /be so melodramatic ? We were like two men 
at the Porte St. Martin. Inflated language is such a bad 
form 1 ' 

But the cruel stroke had not struck the less closely home, 
and, gentle though his nature was, beyond all forgiveiiess 
from him was the dishonour of his mother's memory. 



CHAPTER VII 

AFTER A RICHMOND DINNER 

It was the height of the season, and the duties of the 
Household were proportionately and insupportably heavy. 
The Brigades were fairly worked to death, and the Indian 
service, in the heat of the Aflghan war, was never more 
onerous than the campaigns that claimed the Guards from 
Derby to Ducal. 

Escorts to Levees, guards of honour to Drawing-rooms, or 
field-days in the Park and the Scrubs, were but the least 
portion of it. Far more severe, and still less to bo shirked, 
were the morning exercise in the Ride ; the daily parade in 
the Lady's Mile; the reconnaissances from club windows, 



APTER A RICHMOND DINNER 79 

the videttes at Flirtation Corner ; the long campaigns at mess- 
breakfasts, with the study of dice and baccarat tactics, and 
the fortifications of Strasburg pate against the invasions of 
Chartreuse and Chambertin ; the breathless steady charges 
of Belgravian staircases when a fashionable drum beat the 
rataplan ; the skirmishes with sharpshooters of the bright - 
armed Irregular Lancers ; the foraging-duty when fair com- 
manders wanted ices or strawberries at garden parties ; the 
ball practice at Hornsey Handicaps ; the terrible risk of cross- 
ing into the enemy's lines, and being made to surrender as 
prisoners of war at the gaols of St. George's, or of St. Paul's, 
Knightsbridge ; the constant inspections of the Flying Bat- 
talions of the Ballet, and the pickets afterwards in the Wood 
of St. John ; the anxieties of the Club commissariats, and the 
close vigilance over the mess wines ; the fatigue duty of ball- 
rooms, and the continual unharnessing consequent on the 
clause in the Regulations never to wear the same gloves twice ; 
all these, without counting the close battles of the Corner and 
the unremitting requirements of the Turf, worked the First 
Life and the rest of the Brigades, Horse and Foot, so hard and 
incessantly that some almost thought of changing into the 
dreary depot of St. Stephen's ; and one mutinous Goldstreamer 
was even rash enough and false enough to his colours to medi- 
tate deserting to the enemy's camp, and giving himself up at 
St. George's — * because a fellow once hanged is let alone, you 
know ! ' 

The Household were very hard pressed through the season 
— a crowded and brilliant one ; and Cecil was in request 
most of all. Bertie, somehow or other, was the fashion — Y,y^* 
marvellous and. iiidefi^nable w6rd,~that gives a more powerful 1^ 
crown than thrones, blood, beauty, or intellect can ever ,,,-, 
bestov/.. And no list was * the thing ' without his name, ^ 
no reception, no garden party, no opera-box, or private con- 
cert, or rose-shadowed boudoir, fashionably affiche without 
being visited by him. How he, in especial, had got his 
reputation it would have been hard to say, unless it were 
that he dressed a shade more perfectly than anyone else, and 
with such inimitable carelessness in the perfection, too, and 
had an almost unattainable matchlessness in the sa7ig froid 
of his soft, languid insolence, and incredible though ever 
gentle effrontery. However gained, he had it ; and his 
beautiful hack Sahara, his mail-phaeton with two blood 



8o UNDER TWO FLAGS 

greys dancing in impatience over the stones, or his little 
dark-green brougham for night-work, were, one or another of 
tbem, always seen from two in tlie day till four or five in 
the dawn about the park or the town. 

And yet this season, while he made a Prima Donna by a 
* Bravissima ! ' introduced a new tie by an evening's wear, gave 
a cook the cordon with his praise, and rendered a fresh 
invented liqueur the rage by his recommendation, Bertie 
knew very well that he was ruined. 

The breach between his father and himself was irrevocable. 
He had left Royallieu as soon as his guests had quitted it, 
and young Berkeley was out of all danger. He had long 
known he could look for no help from the old lord, or from 
his elder brother, the heir : and now every chance of it was 
hopelessly closed ; nothing but the whim or the will of those 
who held his floating paper, and the tradesmen who had his 
name on their books at compound interest of the heaviest, 
stood between him and the fatal hour when he must ' send 
in his papers to sell,' and be ' nowhere ' in the great race 
of life. 
fS^ He knew that a season, a month, a day, might be the 
y only"respite left him, the only pause for him betwixt his 
* V glittering luxurious world and the fiat of outlawry and exile. 
\*i He knew that the Jews might be down on him any night 
1. ^ that he sat at the Guards' mess, flirted with foreign princesses, 
^rJ' or laughed at the gossamer gossip of the town over iced 
1^ drinks in the clubs. His liabilities were tremendous, his 
resources totally exhausted ; but such was the latent reckless- 
ness of the careless Royallieu blood, and such the languid 
devil-may-care of his training and his temper, that the know- 
ledge scarcely ever seriously disturbed his enjoyment of the 
moment. Somehow, he never realised it. 

If any weatherwise had told the Lisbon people of the 
coming of the great earthquake, do you think they could 
have brought themselves to realise that midnight darkness, 
that yawning desolation which were nigh, while the sun was 
still so bright and the sea so tranquil, and the bloom so 
sweet on purple pomegranate and amber grape, and the 
scarlet of odorous flowers, and the blush of a girl's kiss- 
warmed cheek ? 

A sentimental metaphor with which to compare the diffi- 
culties of a dandy of the Household, because his * stiff ' was 



AFTER A RICHMOND DINNER 8i 

floating about in too many directions at too many high 
figures, and he had hardly enough till next pay-day camo 
round to purchase the bouquets he sent and meet the club- 
fees that were due ! But, after all, may it not well ba 
doubted if a sharp shock and a second's blindness, and a 
sudden sweep down under the walls of the Cathedral on the 
waters of the Tagus, were not, on the whole, a quicker and 
pleasanter mode of extinction than that social earthquake — 

* gone to the bad with a crash ' ? And the Lisbonites did 
not more disbelieve in, and dream less of their coming ruin, 
than Cecil did his, while he was doing the season, with 
engagements enough in a night to spread over a month, the 
best horses in the town, a dozen rose-notes sent to his clubs 
or his lodgings in a day, and the newest thing in soups, colts, 
beauties, neckties, perfumes, tobaccos, or square dances, 
waiting his dictum to become the fashion. 

' How you do go on with those women. Beauty,' growled 
the Seraph, one day after a morning of fearful hard work 
consequent on having played the Foot Guards at Lord's, and, 
in an unwary mom^ent, having allowed himself to be decoyed 
afterwards to a private concert, and very nearly proposed to in 
consequence, during a Symphony in A ; an impending terror 
from which he could hardly restore himself by puffing Turkish 
like a steam-engine, to assure himself of his jeopardised safety. 

* You're horribly imprudent ! ' 

* Not a bit of it,' rejoined Beauty, serenely. ' That is the 
superior wisdom and beautiful simplicity of making love to 
your neighbour's wife ; she can't marry you ! ' 

' But she may get you into the D. C.,' mused the Seraph, 
who had gloomy personal recollection of having been twice 
through that phase of law and life, and of having been 
enormously mulcted in damages because he was a Duke in 
ftduro, and because, as he piteously observed on the occasion, 

* You couldn't make that fellow Cresswell see that it was they 
ran away with me each time ! ' 

• Oh ! everybody goes through the D. 0. somehow 6r other, 
answered Cecil, with philosophy. * It's like the Church, the 
Commons, and the Gallows, you know — one of the popular 
Institutions.' 

' And it's the only Law Court where the robber cuts a better 
figure than the robbed,* laughed the Seraph, consoling himself 
that he had escaped the future chance of showing in the 



8s UNDER TWO FLAGS 

latter class of marital defrauded, by shying that proposal 
during the Symphony in A, on which his thoughts ran, aa 
the thoughts of one who has just escaped from an Alpine 
crevasse, run on the past abyss in which he has been so 
nearly lost for ever. * I say, Beauty, were you ever near 
doing anything serious — asking anybody to marry you, eh ? 
1 suppose you have been — they do make such av/ful hard 
running on one I ' and the poor hunted Seraph stretched his 
magnificent limbs with the sigh of a martyred innocent. 

* I was once — only once I ' 

* Ah, by Jove ! and what saved you ? ' 

The Seraph lifted himself a little, with a sort of pitying 
sympathising curiosity towards a fellow-sufferer. 

' Well, I'll tell you,* said Bertie, with a sigh as of a man 
who hated long sentences, and who was about to plunge into 
a painful past. * It's ages ago ; day I was at a Drawing- 
room ; year Blue Ruin won the Clearwell for Royal, I think. 
Wedged up there, in that poking place, I saw such a face — 
the deuce, it almost makes me feel enthusiastic now. She 
was just out — an angel with a train I She had delicious 
eyes — like a spaniel's, you know — a cheek like this peach, 
and lips like that strawberry, there, on the top of your ice. 
She looked at me, and I was in love 1 I knew who she was 
— Irish lord's daughter — girl I could have had for the asking ; 
and I vow that I thought I luould ask her — I actually was as 
far gone ns that — I actually said to myself, I'd hang about her 
a week or two, and then propose. You'll hardly believe it, 
but I did ! Watched her presented ; such grace, such a smile, 
such a divine lift of the lashes. I was really in love, and 
with a girl who would marry me I I was never so near a 
fatal thing in my life ' 

* Well ? ' asked the Seraph, pausing to listen till he let the 
ice in his sherry-cobbler melt away : when you have been so 
near breaking your neck down the Matrimonial Matterhorn, 
it is painfully interesting to hear how your friend escaped the 
same risks of descent. 

' Well,' resumed Bertie, * I was very near it. I did nothing 
but watch her ; she saw me, and I felt she was as flattered 
and as touched as she ought to be. She blushed most 
enchantingly ; just enough, you know; she was conscious I 
followed her ; I contrived to get close to her as she passed 
out, so close that I could see those excjuisite eyes lighten 



AFTER A RICHMOND DINNER 83 

and gleam, those exquisite lips part with a sigh ; that beau- 
tiful face beam with the sunshine of a radiant smile. It 
was the dawn of love I had taught her ! I pressed nearer 
and nearer, and I caught her soft whisper aa she leaned to 
her mother : ' Mamma, Tm so hungry ! I could eat a whole 
chicken ! ' The sigh, the smile, the blush, the light, were 
for her dinner — not for me ! The spell was broken for ever. 
A girl whom I had looked at could think of wings and merry- 
thoughts and white sauce I I have never been near a proposal 
again.' 

The Seraph, with the clarion roll of his gay laughter, flung 
a hautboy at him. 

* Hang you, Beauty ! If I didn't think you were going to 
tell one how you really got out of a serious thing ; it is so 
aw^fully difficult to keep clear of them nowadays. Those 
before-dinner teas are only just so many new traps 1 What 
became of her — eh ? * 

* She married a Scotch laird and became socially extinct, 
somewhere among the Hebrides. Serve her right,* murmured 
Cecil, sententiously. * Only think what she lost just through 
hungering for a chicken ; if I hadn't have proposed' for her — 
for one hardly keeps the screw up to such self-sacrifice as that 
when one is cool the next morning — I would have made her 
the fashion ! ' 

With which masterly description in one phrase of all he 
could have done for the ill-starred debutante who had been 
hungry in the wrong place, Cecil lounged out of the club to 
drive with half a dozen of his set to a water-party — a Baccha- 
nalian water-party, with the Zu-Zu and her sisters for the 
Naiads and the Household for their Tritons. 

A water-party whose water element apparently consisted in 
driving down to Richmond, dining at nine, being three hours 
over the courses, contributing seven guineas apiece for the 
repast, listening to the songs of the Cafe Alcazar, reproduced 
with matchless elan by a pretty French actress, being pelted 
with brandy cherries by the Zu-Zu, seeing their best cigars 
thrown away half-smoked by pretty pillagers, and driving 
back again to town in the soft starry night, with the gay 
rhythms ringing from the box-seat as the leaders dashed 
along in a stretching gallop down the Kew Road. It certainly 
had no other more aquatic feature in it save a little drifting 
about for twenty minutes before dining, in toy boats and 

o2 



84 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

punts, as the sun was setting, while Laura Lelas, the brunette 
actress, sang a barcarolle that would have been worthy of 
medieval 



^ Venice, and her people, only born to bloom and drop. 

i 



r> i It did not set Cecil thinking, however, after Browning's 



/ 



fashion, 
j Where be all those 

1 Dear dead women, with such hair too, what's become of all the gold 
I Used to hang and brush their bosoms ? I feel chilly and grown old ; 

because, in the first place, it was a canon with him never to 
think at all ; in the second, if put to it he would have averred 
that he knew nothing of "^.^nice, except that it was a musty 
old bore of a place, where they worried you about visas and 
iuggage and all that, chloride of lim'd you if you came from 
the East, and couldn't give you a mount if it were ever so ; 
and in the third, instead of longing for the dear dead women, 
he was entirely contented with the lovely living ones who 
were at that moment puffing the smoke of his scented cigar- 
ettes into his eyes, making him eat lobster drowned in Chablis, 

• or pelting him with bonbons. 

"** As they left the Star and Garter, Laura Lelas, mounted on 
Cecil's box-seat, remembered she had dropped her cashmere 
in the dining-room. A cashmere is a "Parisian's soul, idol, 
and fetish ; servants could not find it ; Cecil, who, to do him 
this justice, was always as courteous to a comedienne as to a 
countess, went himself. Passing the open windows of another 
room, he recognised the face of his little brother among a set 
of young Civil Service fellows, attaches, and cornets. They 
had no women with them ; but they had brought what was 
perhaps worse — dice for hazard — and were turning the un- 
conscious Star and Garter into an impromptu Crockford'a 

.^.over their wine. 

,- Little Berke's pretty face was very flushed ; his lips were 

f^' [ set tight, his eyes were glittering ; the boy had the gambler'a 

^ passion of the Royallicu blood in its~ho[rest intensity. He 

vV was playing with a terriblo eagerness that went to Bertie's 

heart with the same sort of pang of remorse with which he 

had looked on him when he had been throvv^n like dead on hia 

bed at home. 

Cecil stopped and leaned over the open window. 



^ 



AFTER A RICHMOND DINNER 85 

* Ah, young one, I did not know you were here. We are 
going home ; will you come ? ' he asked, with a careless nod 
to the rest of the young fellows. 

Berkeley looked up with a wayward, irritated annoyance. 

* No, I can't,' he said, irritably ; * don't you see we are 
playing, Bertie ? ' 

* I see,' answered Cecil, with a dash of gravity, almost of 
Badness in him, as he leaned farther over the window-sill with 
his cigar in his teeth. 

* Come away,' he whispered kindly, as he almost touched 
the boy, who chanced to be close to the casement. * Hazard 
is the very deuce for anybody ; and you know Royal hates it. 
Come with us, Berke : there's a capital set here, and I'm 
going to half a dozen good houses to-night, when we get 
back. I'll take you with me. Come ! you like waltzing, 
and all that sort of thing, you know.' 

The lad shook himself peevishly ; a sullen cloud over his 
fair, picturesque, boyish face. 

* Let me alone before the fellows,' he muttered impatiently. 
* I won't come, I tell you.' 

' Soit ! ' 

Cecil shrugged his shoulders, left the window, found the 
Lelas' cashmere, and sauntered back to the drags without 
any more expostulation. The sweetness of his temper could 
never be annoyed, but also he never troubled himself to 
utter useless words. Moreover, he had never been in his Ufa 
much in earnest about anything ; it was not worth while. 

' A pretty fellow I am to turn preacher, when I have sing 
enough on my own. shoulders for twenty,' he thought, as he 
shook the ribbons and started the leaders off to the gay musio 
of Laura Lelas' champagne-tuned laughter. 

The thoughts that had crossed his mind when he had. 
looked on his brother's inanimate form had not been wholly! 
forgotten since; he felt something like self-accusation when-! 
ever he saw, in some grey summer dawn, as he had seen now,}^ lir 
the boy's bright face, haggard and pale with the prematura' 
miseries of the gamester, or heard his half-piteous, half- ; 
querulous lamentations over his losses ; and he would essay, \ 
with all the consummate tact the world had taught him, to ; 
persuade him from his recklessness, and warn him of its con- \ 
sequences. But little Berke, though he loved his elder after 
a fashion, was wayward, selfish, and unstable as water. He 



86 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

would be very sorry sometimes, very repentant, and would 

promise anything under the sun ; but five minutes afterwards 

he would go his own way just the same, and be as irritably 

resentful of interference as a proud, spoiled, still-childish 

l^^emper can be. And Cecil — the last man in the world to 

\turn Mentor — would light a cheroot, as he did to-night, and 

forget all about it. The boy would be right enough when 

he had had his swing, he thought. Bertie's philosophy was 

the essence of laissez /aire. 

He wbiild have defied a Manfred, or an Aylmer of Aylmer's 
Field, to be long pursued by remorse or care if he drank the 
right cru and lived in the right set. * If it be very severe,' 
he would say, * it may give him a pang once a twelvemonth 
— say the morning after a whitebait dinner. Repentance is 
generally the fruit of indigestion, and contrition may generally 
V be traced to too many truffles or olives.' 
,^^ /Cecil had no time or space for thought ; he never thought ; 
^' /would not have thought seriously for a kingdom. A novel, 
1 idly skimmed over in bed, was the extent of his literature ; 
^/ \he never bored himself by reading the papers, he heard the 
v| inews earlier than they told it ; and as he lived, he was too 
;i * constantly supplied from the world about him with amuse- 
ment and variety to have to do anything beyond letting 
himself be amused : quietly fanned, as it were, with the 
lulling punkah of social pleasure, without even the trouble of 
pulling the strings. He had naturally considerable talents, 
and an almost dangerous facility in them ; but he might have 
been as brainless as a mollusc for any exertion he gave his 
-brain. 

' If I were a professional diner-out, you know, I'd use such 
wits as I have : but why should I now ? ' he said on one 
occasion, when a fair lady reproached him with this inertia. 
'The best style is only just to say yes and no — and be 
bored even in saying that — and a very comfortable stylo it 
is, too. You get amused without the trouble of opening 
your lips.' 

* But if everybody were equally monosyllabic, how then ? 
you would not get amused,' suggested his interrogator, a 
brilliant Parisienne. 

' Well — everybody is pretty nearly,' said Bertie ; ' but 
there are always a lot of fellov/s who give their wits to get 
their dinners — social rockets, you know — who will always 



AFTER A RICHMOND DINNER 87 

fire themselves off to sparkle instead of you if you give them 
a white ball at the clubs, or get them a card for good houses. 
It saves you so much trouble ; it is such a bore to have to 
talk,' 

He went that night, as he had said, to half a dozen good 
houses, midnight receptions, and after-midnight waltzes, 
making his bow in a Cabinet Minister's vestibule, and taking 
up the thread of the same flirtation at three different balls, 
showing himself for a moment at a Premier's At-home, and 
looking eminently graceful and pre-eminently weary in an 
ambassadress's drawing-room, and winding up the series by 
a dainty little supper in the grey of the morning, with a 
sparkling party of French actresses, as bright as the bubbles 
of their own Clicquot. 

When he went upstairs to his own bedroom, in Picca- 
dilly, about five o'clock, therefore, he was both sleepy and 
tired, and lamented to that cherished and ever-discreet con- 
fidant, a cheroot, the brutal demands of the Service, which 
would drag him off, in five hours' time, without the slightest 
regard to his feelings, to take share in the hot, heavy, dusty, 
scorching work of a field-day at the Scrubs. 

* Here — get me to perch as quick as you can. Pake,' he 
murmured, dropping into an arm-chair : astonished that Rake 
did not answer, he saw standing by him inste?.d the boy 
Berkeley. Surprise was a weakness of raw inexperience that 
Cecil never felt ; his gazette as Commander-in-Chief, or the 
presence of the Wandering Jew in his lodgings would never 
have excited it in him. In the first place, he would have 
merely lilted his eyebrows and said, * Be a fearful bore I ' in 
the second he would have done the same, and murmured, 
* Queer old cad ! * 

Surprised, therefore, he was not, at the boy's untimely 
apparition ; but his eyes dwelt on him with a mild wonder, 
while his lips dropped but one word : 

* Amber-Amulet ? ' 

Am.ber-Amulet was a colt of the most marvellous promise 
at the Royallieu establishment, looked on to win the next 
Clearwell, Guineas, and Derby as a certainty. An accident 
to the young chestnut was the only thing that suggested 
itself as of possibly sufficient importance to make his brother 
wait for him at five o'clock on a June morning. 

Berkeley looked up confusedly, impatiently : 



88 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

• 'You are never thinking but of horses or women/ he 
j said, peevishly; * there may be other thmgs in the world, 
' surely.' 

* Indisputably there are other things in the world, dear 
boy, but none so much to my taste,' said Cecil, composedly, 
stretching himself with a yawn. ' With every regard to 
hospitality, and the charms of your society, might I hint that 
five o'clock in the morning is not precisely the most suitable 
hour for social visits and ethical questions ? ' 

' For God's sake be serious, Bertie 1 I am the most 
miserable wretch in creation.' 

Cecil opened his closed eyes, with the sleepy indifference 
vanished from them, and a look of genuine and affectionate 
concern on the serene insouciance of his face. 

* Ah, you would stay and play that chicken-hazard,' he 
thought, but he was not one who would have reminded the 
boy of his own advice and its rejection ; he looked at him in 
silence a moment, then raised himself with a sigh. 

* Dear boy, why didn't you sleep upon it ? I never think 
of disagreeable things till they wake me with my coffee ; 
then I take them up with the cup and put them down with 
it. You don't know how well it answers ; it disposes of 
them wonderfully.' 

The boy lifted his head with a quick, reproachful anger, 
and in the gaslight his cheeks were flushed, his eyes full of 
tears. 

* How brutal you are, Bertie 1 I tell you I am ruined, 
and you care no more than if you were a stone. You only 
think of yourself ; you only live for yourself ! ' 

He had forgotten the money that had been tossed to him 
off that very table the day before the Grand Military ; he had 
forgotten the debts that had been paid for him out of the 
winnings of that very race. There is a childish, wayward, 
wailing temper, which never counts benefits received save as 
iitle-deeds by which to demand others. Cecil looked at him 
fwith just a shadow of regret, not reproachful enough to be 
rebuke, in his glance, but did not defend himself in any way 
against the boyish -passionate accusation, nor recall his own 
past gifts into remembrance. 

^ ♦ " Brutal I " What a word, little one ! Nobody's brutal 
now ; you never see that form nowadays. Come, what is 
the worst this time ? ' 



AFTER A RICHMOND DINNER S9 

Berkeley looked sullenly down on the table where his 
elbows leaned, scattering the rose-notes, the French novels, 
the cigarettes, and the gold essence-bottles with which it was 
strewn ; there was something dogged yet agitated, half- 
insolent yet half -timidly irresolute, upon him, that was new 
there. 

• The worst is soon told,' he said, huskily, and his teeth 
chattered together slightly as though with cold as he spoke ; 
* I lost two hundred to-night ; I must pay it, or be disgraced 
for ever ; I have not a farthing ; I cannot get the money for 
my life ; no Jews will lend to me, I am under age ; and — 

and ' his voice sank lower and grew more defiant, for he 

knew that the sole thing forbidden him peremptorily by both 
his father and his brothers was the thing he had now to tell, 
'and — I borrowed three ponies of Granville Lee yesterday, 
as he came from the Corner with a lot of bank-notes after 
settling-day. I told him I would pay them to-morrow; I 
made sure I should have won to-night.' ^\ 

The piteous unreason of the born gamester, who clings so ^ ., 
madly to the belief that luck must come to him, and acts on, v-""*" 
that belief as though a bank were his to lose his gold from, 
was never more utterly spoken in all its folly, in all ita 
pitiable optimism, than now in the boy's confession. 

Bertie started from his chair, his sleepy languor dissipated, 
on his face the look that had come there when Lord Royallieu 
had dishonoured his mother's name. I^^his code there was , 
one shameless piece of utter and unmentionable^egradation— ^7 
it was to borrow of a friend. 

* You will bring some disgrace on us before you die, 
Berkeley,' he said, with a keener infliction of pain and con- 
tempt than had ever been in his voice. 'Have you no 
common knowledge of honour ? ' 

The lad flushed under the lash of the words, but it was a 
flush of anger rather than of shame ; he did not lift his eyes, 
but gazed sullenly down on the yellow paper of a Paris 
romance he was irritably dog -earing. 

'You are severe enough,' he said, gloomily, and yet 
insolently. ' Are you such a mirror of honour yourself ? 
I suppose my debts at the worst are about one-fifth of 
yours.' 

For a moment even the sweetness of Cecil's temper almost 
gave way. Be his debts what they would, there was not one 



90 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

among them to liis friends, or one for wliicli the law could 
not seize him. He was silent ; he did not wish to have a 
scene of dissension with one who was but a child to him ; 
moreover, it was his nature to abhor scenes of any sort, and 
to avert even a dispute, at any cost. 

He came back and sat down without any change of expres- 
sion, putting his cheroot in his mouth. 

* Tr^s cher, you are not courteous,' he said, wearily, ' but 
it may be that you are right. I am not a good one for you 
to copy from in anything, except the fit of my coats ; I don't 
think I ever told you I was. I am not altogether so satisfied 
with myself as to suggest myself as a model for anything, 
unless it were to stand in a tailor's window in Bond Street to 
show the muffs how to dress. That isn't ^the point, though ; 
you say you want near 3001. by to-morrow — to-day rather. 
I can suggest nothing except to take the morning mail to tha 
Shires, and ask Royal straight out ; he never refuses you.' 

Berkeley looked at him with a bewildered terror that 
banished at a stroke his sullen defiance ; he was irresolute as 
a girl, and keenly moved by fear. ~ " 

'I would rather cut my throat,' he said, with a wild 
exaggeration that was but the literal reflection of the trepida- 
tion on him ; * as I live I would ! I have had so much 
.from him lately — jon don't know how much — and now of 
j all times, v/hen they threaten to foreclose the mortgage on 

i Eoyalheu ' 

i * What ?— foreclose what ? ' 

; * The mortgage ! ' answered Berkeley, impatiently ; to hia 
childish egotism it seemed cruel and intolerable that any 
extremities should be considered save his own. ' You know 
the lands are mortgaged as deeply as Monti and the entail 
would allow them. They threatened to foreclose — I thiuk 
that's the word— and Royal has had God knows what work 
to stave them off ; I no more dare face him, and ask him for 
a sovereign now, than I dare ask him to give me the gold 
plate off the sideboard.' 

Cecil listened gravely ; it cut him more keenly than he 
showed to learn the evils and the ruin that so closely menaced 
his house ; and to find how entirely his father's morbid mania 
against him severed him from all the interests and all the con- 
fidence of his family, and left him ignorant of matters even so 
nearly touching him as these. 



AFTER A RICHMOND DINNER 91 

* Your intelligence is not cheerful, little one,* he said, 
with a languid stretch of his limbs ; it was his nature to glide 
olf painful subjects. 'And — I really am sleepy! You think 
there is no hope Royal would help you ? ' 

' I tell you I will shoot myself through the brain rather 
than ask him.* 

Bertie moved restlessly in the soft depths of his lounging- 
chair ; he shunned worry, loathed it, escaped it at every 
portal, and here it came to him just when he wanted to go to 
sleep. He could not divest himself of the feeling that, had 
his own career been different, less extravagant, less dissipated, 
less indolently spendthrift, he might have exercised a better 
influence, and his brother's young life might have been more 
prudently launched upon the world. He felt, too, with a 
sharper pang than he had ever felt it for himself, the brilliant 
beggary in which he lived, the utter inability he had to raise 
even the sum that the boy now needed, a sum, so trifling in 
his set and v>'ith his habits, that he had betted it over and 
over again in a club-room on a single game of whist. It cut 
him with a bitter impatient pain ; he was as generous as the 
winds, and there is no trial keener to such a temper than the 
poverty that paralyses its power to give. 

* It is no use to give you false hopes, young one,' he said 
gently. ' I can do nothing ! You ought to know me by 
this time ; and if you do, you know, too, that if the money were 
mine, it should be yours at a word ; if you don't, no matter I 
Frankly, Berke, I am all down hill ; my bills may be called 
in any moment ; when they are I must send in my papers to 
sell, and cut the country, if my duns don't catch me before, 
which they probably will, in which event I shall be, to all 
intents and purposes — dead. This is not lively conversation, 
but you will do me the justice to say that it was not I who 
introduced it. Only — one word for all, my boy, understand 
this : if I could help you I would, cost what it might, but as 
matters stand — I cannot* 

And with that Cecil puffed a great cloud of smoke to en- 
velope him : the subject wag painful, the denial wounded him 
by whom it had to be given full as much as it could wound 
him whom it refused. Berkeley heard it in silence, his head 
still hung down, his colour changing, his hands nervously 
j)laying with the boucjuet-bottles, shutting and opening their 
gold tops. 



9i UNDER TWO FLAGS 

* No — yes — I know,' he said hurriedly ; ' I have no right 
to expect it, and have been behaving like a cur, and — and — 

idl that I know. But there is one way you could save 

me, Bertie, if it isn't too much for a fellow to ask.' 

* I can't say I see the way, little one,' said Cecil with a 
Bigh. ♦ What is it ? ' 

' Why — look here. You see I'm not of age ; my signature 
is of no use ; they won't take it ; else I could get money in 
no time on what must come to me when Royal dies ; though 
'tisn't enough to make the Jews " melt " at a risk. Now — 
now — look here. I can't see that there could be any harm in 
it. You are such chums with Lord Rockingham, and he's as 
rich as all the Jews put together. What could there be in it 
if you just asked him to lend you a monkey for me ? Ke'd 
do it in a minute, because he'd give his head away to you — 

they all say so — and he'd never miss it. Now, Bertie w^ill 

you ? ' ^ 

In his boyish incoherence and its disjointed inelegance the 
appeal was panted out rather than spoken, and while his head 
drooped and the hot colour burned in his face, he darted a 
swift look at his brother, so full of dread and misery that it 
pierced Cecil to the quick as he rose from his chair and paced 
the room, flinging his cheroot aside ; the look disarmed the 
reply that was on his lips, but his face grew dark. 

* What you ask is impossible,' he said briefly. * If I did 
Buch a thing as that, I should deserve to be hounded out of 
the Guards to-morrow.' 

The boy's face grew more sullen, more haggard, more evil, 
as he still bent his arms on the table, his glance not meeting 
bis brother's. 

* You speak as if it would be a crime,' he muttered savagely, 
with a plaintive moan of pain in the tone ; he thought himself 
cruelly dealt with, and unjustly punished. 

* It jKOJiMJpe. thetrickof a swiijillfir, and i^ would be the 
Bhame of a gentleman,' said "Cecil as briefly stiU. * That ig 
ansi^er enough^. 

* Then you will not do it ? ' 

* I have replied already.' 

There was that in the tone, and in the look w^ith which he 
paused before the table, that Berkeley had never heard or seen 
in him before ; something that made the supple, childish, 
petulant, cowardly nature of the boy shrink and be silenced ; 



AFTER A RICHMOND DINNER 93 

something for a single instant of the haughty and untamable 
temper of The Eoyaliieu blood that awoke in the too feminine 
softness and svreetness of Cecil's disposition. 

' You said that you would aid me at ^ny cost, and now 
that I ask you so wretched a trifle, you treat me as if I were 
a scoundrel,* he moaned passionately. * The Seraph would 
give you the money at a word. It is your pride — nothing 
but pride. Much pride is worth to us who are penniless 
beggars 1 * 

' If we are penniless beggars, by what right should we 
borrow of other men ? ' 

* You are wonderfully scrupulous all of a sudden ! ' 

Cecil shrugged his shoulders slightly and began to smoke 
ago in. He did not attempt to push the argument. His 
character was too indolent to defend itself against aspersion, 
and horror of a quarrelsome scene far greater than his heed of 
misconstruction. 

You are a brute to me ! ' went on the lad, with his 
querulous and bitter passion rising almost to tears like a 
woman's. * You pretend you can refuse me nothing ; and 
Ihe moment I ask you the smallest thing, you turn round on 
me, and speak as if I were the greatest blackguard on earth. 
You'll let me go to the bad to-morrow rather than bend your 
pride to save me ; you live like a Duke, and don't care if I 
should die in a debtors' prison ! Y^ou only brag about 
*' honour " when you want to get out of helping a fellow, and if 
I were to cut my throat to-night you would only shrug your 
shoulders, and sneer at my death in the club-room, v/ith a 
jest picked out of your cursed French novels ! ' 

' Melodramatic, and scarcely correct,' murmured Bertie. 
The ingratitude to himself touched him indeed but little ; 
he was not given to making much of anything that Vy^as due 
to himself, partly through carelessness, partly through gene- 

,- rosity ; but the absence in his brother of that delicate, intan^ 

i gible, indescribable, sensitive-nerve which men call Honour, an 
absence that had never struck on him so vividly as it did to- , 

1 night, troubled him, surprised him, oppressed him. 

^ There is no science that can supply this defect to the tem- 
perament created without it ; it may be taught a counterfeit, 
but it will never own a reality. 

* Little one, you are heated, and don't know what you 
Bay,' he began very gently a few moments after, as he leaned 



94 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

forward and looked straight in the boy's eyes ; * don't ba 
down about this ; you w^ill pull through, never fear. Listen 
to me ; go down to Royal, and tell him all frankly. I know 
him better than you ; he will be savage for a second, but he 
would sell every stick and stone on the land for your sake ; 
he will see you safe through this. Only bear one thing in 
mind — tell him all. No half-measures, no half-confidences ; 
tell him the worst, and ask his help. You will not come 
back without it.' 

Berkeley Hstened, his eyes shunning bis brother's, the red 
colour darker on his face. 

' Do as I say,' said Cecil, very gently still. ' Tell him, if 
you like, that it is through following my follies that you have 
come to grief ; he w411 be sure to pity you then.' 

There was a smile, a little sad, on his lips, as he said the 
last words, but it passed at once, as he added : 

* Do you hear me~will you go ? * 

* If you want me— yes.' 

* On your word, now ? * 
' Ou my word.' 
There was an impatience in the answer, a feverish eager- 

ne>^s in the way he assented, that might have made the con- 
sent rather a means to evade the pressure than a genuine 
pledge to follow the advice ; that darker, more _eyil, more 
defiant look was still upon his face, sweeping its youth aw^ay 
and leaving in its stead a wavering shadow. lie rose with a 
sudden movement; his tumbled hair, his disordered attire, 
his bloodshot eyes, his haggard look of sleeplessness and ex- 
citement in strange contrast with the easy perfection of Cecira 
dress and the calm languor of his attitude. The boy was 
very young, and was not seasoned to his life and acclimatised 
to his ruin hke his elder brother. He looked at him with a 
certain petulant envy — the envy of every young fellow for a 
man of the world, ' I beg your pardon for keeping you up, 
Bertie,' he said huskily. * Good night.' 
/ Cecil gave a little yawn. 

/ * Dear boy, it woiild have been better if you could have 
I come in with the coffee. Never be impulsive ; don't do a bit 
of good, and is such a bad form ! ' 

He spoke lightly, serenely, both because such w\as as much 
his nature as it was to breathe, and because his heart wag 
heavy that he had to send away the young one without help, 



s. 



AFTER A RICHMOND DINNER 95 

though he knew that the course he had made him adopt 
would serve him more permanently in the end. But he leant 
his hand a second on Berke's shoulder, while for one single 
moment in his life he grew serious. 

' You must know I could not do what you asked ; I could 
not meet any man in the Guards face to face if I sunk myself 
and sunk them so low. Can't you see that, httle one *> ' 

There was a wishfulness in the last words ; he would gladly 
have believed that his brother had at length some perception 
of his meaning. 

* You say so, and that is enough,' said the boy, pettishly ; 
* I cannot understand that I asked anything so dreadful ; 
but I suppose you have too many needs of your own to have 
any resources left for mine.' 

Cecil shrugged his shoulders slightly again, and let him go. 
But he could not altogether banish a pang of pain at his heart, 
less even for his brother's ingratitude than at his callousness 
to all those finer, better instincts of which honour is the con- 
crete nam-e. For the moment, thought, grave, weary, and 
darkened, fell on him ; he had passed through what he would 
have suffered any amount of misconstruction to escape — a 
disagreeable scone ; he had been as unable as though he were 
a commissionaire in the streets to advance a step to succour 
the necessities for which his help had been asked ; and he, 
was forced, despite all his will, to look for the first time 
blankly in the face the ruin that awaited him. There was ' 
no other name for it : it would be ruin complete and wholly ' 
inevitable. His signature would have been accepted no more , 
by any bill-discounter in London ; he had forestalled all, to ; 
the uttermost farthing ; his debts pressed heavier every day ; 
he could have no power to avert the crash that must in a few 
weeks, or at most a few months, fall upon him. And to him 
an utter blankness and darkness lay beyond. 

Barred out from the only Ufe he knew, the only life that 
seemed to him endurable or worth the living ; severed from 
all the pleasures, pursuits, habits, and luxuries of long custom ; 
deprived of all that had become to him as second nature from 
childhood ; sold up, penniless, driven out from all that he 
had known as the very necessities of existence, his very name 
forgotten in the world of which he was now the darling, a 
man without a career, without a hope, without a refuge — he 
could not realise that this was what awaited him then ; this 



%^ 



96 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

;was the fate that must withm so short a space be his. Life 
ihad gone so smoothly with him, and his Tvorld was a world 
from whose surface every distasteful thought was so habitually 
excluded, that he could no more understand this desolation 
lying in wait for him, than one in the fulness and elasticity 
of health can beheve the doom that tells him he will be a 
'.dead man before the sun has set. 

As he sat there, with the gas of the mirror branches 
glancing on the gold and silver hilts of the cross-swords 
above the fireplace, and the smoke of his cheroot curling 
among the pile of invitation cards to all the best houses 
in the town, Cecil could not bring himself to believe that 
things were really come to this pass with him ; it is so hard 
for a man who has the magnificence of the fashionable clubs 
open to him day and night to beat into his brain the truth that 
in six months hence he may be lying in the debtors* prison at 
Baden ; it is so difficult for a man who has had no greater 
care on his mind than to plan the courtesies of a Guards' Ball 
or of a yacht's summer-day banquet, to absolutely conceive 
the fact that in a year's time he will thank God if he have a 
few francs left to pay for a wretched dinner in a miserable 
estaminct in a foreign bathing-place. 

' It mayn't come to that,' he thought ; ' something may 
happen. If I could get my troop now, that would stave off 
the Jews, or if I should win some heavy pots on the Prix de 
Dames, things would swim on again. I viust v/in ; the King 
will be as nt as in the Shires, and there will only bo the 
French horses between us and an absolute * walk over.' 
Things mayn't come to the worst after all.' 

And so careless and quickly oblivious, happily or un- 
happily, was his temperament, that ho read himself to sleep 
with Terrail's ' Club des Valets de Coeur,' and slept in ten 
minutes* time as composedly as though he had inherited fifty 
thousand a year. 

That evening in the loose-box down at Eoyallieu Forest 
King stood without any body-clothing, for the night was close 
and sultry ; a lock of the sweetest hay unnoticed in his rack, 
and his favourite wheaten-gruel standing uncared for under his 
very nose : the King was in the height of excitation, alarm, 
and haughty wrath. His ears v;cro laid fiat to his head, his 
nostrils were distended, his eyes were glancing uneasily with 



AFTER A RICHMOND DINNER 97 

a nervous angry fire rarely in him, and ever and anon he 
lashed out his heels with a tremendous thundering thud 
against the opposite wall with a force that reverberated 
through the stables, and made his companions start and edge 
away. It was precisely these companions that the aristo- 
cratic hero of the Soldiers' Blue Ribbon scornfully abhorred. 

They had just been looking him over — to their own immi- 
nent peril ; and the patrician winner of the Vase, the brilliant 
six-year old of Paris, and Shire and Spa steeplechase fame, 
the knightly descendant of the White Cockade blood, and of 
the coursers of Circassia, had resented the familiarity propor- 
tionately to his own renown and dignity. The King was a 
very sweet-tempered horse, a perfect temper, indeed, and 
ductile to a touch from those he loved ; but he liked very 
few, and would suffer liberties from none. And of a truth 
his prejudices were very just ; and if his clever heels had 
caughf^^as it was not his fault that they did not — the heads 
of his two companions, instead of coming with that ponderous 
crash into the panels of his box, society would ce.^tainly have ' 
been no loser, and his owner would have gained more than. 
had ever before hung in the careless balance of his life. 

But the iron heels, with their shining plates, only caught 
the oak of his box-door; and the tete-a-tete in the sultry 
oppressive night went on as the speakers moved to a prudent 
distance, one of them thoughtfully chewing a bit of straw, 
after the immemorial habit of grooms, who ever seem as if 
they had been born into this world with a cornstalk ready in 
their mouths. 

* It's a'most a pity — he's in such perfect condition. Tiptop. 
Cool as a cucumber after the longest pipe-opener ; licks hia 
oats up to the last grain ; leads the whole string such a 
rattling spin as never was spun but by a Derby cracker before 
him. It's a'most a pity,' said Willon meditatively, eyeing 
his charge, the King, with remorseful glances. 

* Prut — tush — tish ! ' said his companion, with a whistle 
in his teeth that ended with a * damnation ! * * It'll only 
knock him over for the race ; he'll be right as a trivet after 

it. What's your little game, coming it soft like that all of a . .^ 
Budden ? Xqu hate that_ere joung swell hke pison.' ^ J^ 

'Ay,' assented the hea(f groom ~Wtth~~ar~ tigerish * energy, \jr ^ 
viciously consuming his bit of straw. * What for am I — >p' 
bead groom come nigh twenty yer.is ; and to Markisses and 

B 



9$ UNDER TWO FLAGS 

Wiscounts afore liim— put aside in that ere away for a fellow 
as he's took into his service out of the dregs of a regiment, 
what was tied up at the triangles and branded D, as I know 
on, and sore suspected of even worse games than that, and 
now is that set up with pride and sich-like, that nobody's 
woice ain't heard here except his ; I say, what am I called on 
to bear it for ? ' and the head groom's tones grew hoarse and 
vehement, roaring louder under his injuries. ' A man what'3 
attended on Duke's 'osses ever since he was a shaver, to be 
put aside for that workhus blackguard ! A 'oss has a cold — 
it's Rake's mash what's to be given. A 'oss is off his feed — 
it's Rake what's to weigh out the niter and steel. A 'oss 
is a buck-jumper — it's Rake what's to cure him. A 'oss is 
entered for a race — it's Rake what's to order his moruin* 
gallops, and his go- downs o' water. It's past bearin' to have 
f a rascally chap what's been and gone and turned walet set 
j up over one's head in one's own establishment, and let to ride 
' the high 'oss over one roughshod like that ! ' 
,. And Mr. Willon, in his disgust at the equestrian contumely 
thus heaped on him, bit the straw savagely in two, and made 
an end of it, with a vindictive * Will yer be quiet there : blow 
yer,' to the King, who was protesting with his heels against 
the conversation. 

* Come, then, no gammon,' growled his companion — the 
'cousin out o* Yorkshire ' of the keeper's tree. 

* What's yer figure you say ? ' relented W^illon medita- 
tively. 

* Two thousand to nothin' — come ! — can't no handsomer,* 
retorted the Yorkshire cousin, with the air of a man con- 
scious of behaving very nobly. 

* For the race in Germany ? ' pursued Mr. Willon, still 
meditatively. 

* Two thousand to nothin' — come ! ' reiterated the other, 
with his arms folded to intimate that this and nothing else 
was the figure to which he would bind himself. 

Willon chewed another bit of straw, glanced at the horse 
as though he were a human thing to hear, to witness, and to 
judge ; grew a little pale ; and stooped forward. 

' Hush 1 Somebody'll spy on us. It's a bargain.* 

* Done. And you'll paint him, eh ? ' 
' Yes— I'll— paint him.' 

The assent was very husky, and dragged slowly out, while 



A STAG HUNT AU CLAIR DE LA LUNE 99 

his eyes glanced with a furtive, frightened glance over the 
loose-box. Then — still with that cringing, terrified look 
backward to the horse as an assassin may steal a glance 
before his deed at his unconscious victim — the head groom 
and his comrade went out and closed the door of the loose-box 
and passed into the hot lowering summer night. 

Forest King, left in solitude, shook himself with a neigh ; 
took a refreshing roll in the straw, and turned with an 
appetite to his neglected gruel. Unhappily for himself, hig 
fine instincts could not teach him the conspiracy that lay in 
wait for him and his ; and the gallant beast, content to be 
alone, soon slept the sleep of the righteous. 



CHAPTER VIII 

A STAG HUNT AU CLAIR DE LA LUNB 

* Seraph — I've been thinking ' — said Cecil, musingly, as 
they paced homeward together from the Scrubs, with the 
long line of the First Life stretching before and behind their 
chargers, and the bands of the Household Cavalry playing 
mellowly in their rear. 

* You don't mean it I Never let it ooze out, Beauty ; you'll 
ruin your reputation ! ' 

Cecil laughed a httle, very languidly ; to have been in the 
sun for four hours, in full harness, had almost taken out of 
him any power to be amused at anything. 

* I've been thinking,' he went on undisturbed, pulling 
down his chin-scale. * What's a fellow to do when he's 
smashed'?' 

' Eh ? ' The Seraph couldn't offer a suggestion ; he had 
a vague idea that men who were smashed never did do 
anything except accept the smashing ; unless, indeed, they 
turned up afterwards as touts, of which he had an equally 
vague suspicion. 

* What do they do ? ' pursued Bertie. 

* Go to the bad,' finally suggested the Seraph, lighting a 
great cigar, without heeding the presence of the Duke, a 
Field-Marshal, and a Serene Highness far on in front. 

b2 



TOO UNDER TWO FLAGS 

Cecil shook his head. 

'Can't go where thoy are ah-early. I've been thinking 
what a fellow might do that was up a tree ; and on my honour 
there are lots of things one might turn to ' 

* ^Yell, I suppose there are,' assented the Seraph, with a 
shake of his superb limbs in his saddle, till his cuirass and 
chains and scabbard rang again. * I should try the P.R., 
only they will have you train.* 

* One might do better than the P.R. Getting yourself 
into prime condition, only to be pounded out of condition and 
into a jelly, seems hardly logical or satisfactory — specially to 
your looking-glass, though, of course, it's a matter of taste. 
But now, if I had a cropper, and got sold up * 

* You, Beauty ? * The Seraph puffed a giant puff of 
amazement from his Havana, opening his blue eyes to their 
widest. 

' Possible ! ' returned Bertie, serenely, with a nonchalant 
twist to his m,^ustaches. * Anyfching's possible. If I do 
now, it strikes me there are vast fields open.* 

'Gold fields?' suggested the Seraph, wholly bewil- 
dered 

' Gold fields ? No J I.m.ean a field for — what d'ye call it ? 
— genius. Nbw~Io6k here ; nine-tenths of creatures in this 
world don't know how to put on a glove. It's an art, and an 
art that requires long study. If a few of us were to turn 
glove-fitters when we are fairly crashed, we might civilise 
the whole world, and prevent the deformity of an ill-fitting 
glove ever blotting creation and prostituting Houbigant. 
What do you say ? ' 

'Don't be such a donkey. Beauty,' laughed the Seraph, 
while his charger threatened to passage into an oyster-cart. 

'You don't appreciate the majesty of great plans,* re- 
joined Beauty, reprovingly. ' There's an immense deal in 
what I'm saying. Think what we might do for society — 
think how we might extinguish snobbery, if we just dedi- 
cated our smash to Mankind. We might open a College, 
where the traders might go through a course of polite train- 
ing before they blossomed out as millionaires ; the world 
would be spared an agony of dropped h's and bad bows. 
We might have a Bureau where we registered all our social 
experiences, and gave the Plutocracy a map of Belgravia, 
with all the pitfalls marked, all the inaccessible heights 



A STAG HUNT AU CLAIR DE LA LTJNE loi 

coloured red, and all the liard-up great people dotted with 
gold, to show the amount they'd be bought for, with directions 
to the ignoramuses whom to know, court, and avoid. We 
might form a Courier Company, and take Brummagen abroad 
under our guidance, so that the Continent shouldn't think 
Englishwomen always wear blue veils and grey shawls, and 
hear every Englishman shout for porter and beefsteak in 
Tortoni's. We might teach them to take their hats off to \ 
women, and not to prod pictures with sticks, and to look at \ 
statues without poking them with an umbrella, and to be 
persuaded that all foreigners don't want to be bawled at, and 
won't understand bad French any the better for its being 
shouted. Or we might have a Joint-Stock Toilet Association, 
for the purposes of national art, and receive Brummagen to 
show it how to dress ; we might even succeed in making the 
feminine British Public drape itself properly, and the B.P. 
masculine wear boots that won't creak, and coats that don't 
wrinkle, and take off its hat without a jerk, as though it 
were a wooden puppet hung on very stiff strings. Or one 
might ' 

* Talk the greatest nonsense under the sun ! ' laughed the 
Seraph. 'For mercy's sake, are you mad, Bertie ? ' 

' Inevitable question addressed to Genius ! ' yawned Cecil. 
'I'm showing you plans that might teach a whole nation 
good style if we just threw ourselves into it a little. I don't 
mean you, because you'll never smash, and one don't turn 
bear-leader, even to the B.P., without the primary impulse 
of being hard-up. And I don't talk for myself, because, 
when I go to the dogs, I have my own project.' 

' And what's that ? ' 

* To be groom of the chambers at Meurice's or Claridge's,* 
responded Bertie, solemnly. ' Those sublime creatures with 
their silver chains round their necks and their ineffable supre- 
macy over every other mortal I — one would feel in a superior 
region still. And when a snob came to poison the air, how 
exquisitely one could annihilate him with showing him hia 
ignorance of claret ; and when an epicure dined, how delight- 
fully, as one carried in a turbot, one could test him with the 
i-proi(jVette 'positive, or crush him by the eprouvette ii&gativc. 
We have been Equerries at the Palace, both of us, but I don't 
think we know what true dignity is till we shall have risen to 
head- waiters at a Grand Hotel.' 



102' UNDER TWO FLAGS 

"^iVitb'whicli Bpj'tio lot his charger pace onward, while he 
reflected thoughtfully on his future state. The Seraph 
laughed till he almost swayed out of saddle, but he shook 
himself into his balance again with another clash of his 
brilliant harness, while his eyes lightened and glanced with 
a fiery gleam down the line of the Household Cavalry. 

' Well, if I went to the dogs, I wouldn't go to Grand Hotels, 
but I'll tell you where I would go, Beauty.' 

* Where's that ? ' 

* Into hot service, somewhere. By Jove, I'd see some good 
fighting under another flag — out in Algeria, there, or with 
the Poles, or after Garibaldi. I would, in a day — I'm not 
sure I won't now, and I bet you ten to one the life would be 
better than this.' 

Which was ungrateful in the Seraph, for his happy temper 
made him the sunniest and most contented of men, with no 
cross in his life save the dread that somebody would manage 
to marry him some day. But Rock had the true dash and 
true steel of the soldier in him, and his blue eyes flashed over 
his Guards as he spoke, with a longing wish that ho were 
leading them on to a charge instead of pacing with them 
towards Hyde Park. 

Cecil turned in his saddle and looked at him with a certain 
wonder and pleasure in his glance, and did not answer aloud. 

* The deuce — that's not a bad idea,' he thought to himself ; 
and the idea took root and grew with him. 

Far down, very far down, so far that nobody had ever seen 
it, nor himself ever suspected it, there was a lurking instinct in 

* ]3eauty ' — the instinct that had prompted him, when he sent 
the King at the Grand Military cracker, with that prayer, 

* Kill me if you like, but don't fail me 1 ' — which, out of the 
j languor and pleasure-loving temper of his unruffled life, had 
j a vague, restless impulse towards the fiery perils and nervous 
I excitement of a sterner and more stirring career. 

It was only vague, for he was naturally very indolent, very 
gentle, very addicted to taking all things passively, and very 
strongly of persuasion that to rouse yourself for anything was 
a niaiserie of the strongest possible folly ; but it was there. 
It always is there with men of Bertie's order, and only comea 
to light when the match of danger is applied to the touchhole. 
Then, though * the Tenth don't dance,' perhaps, with graceful 
indolent dandy insolence, they can fight as no others fight 



A STAG HUNT AU CLAIR DE LA LUNE 103 

when Boot and Saddle rings through the morning air, and the 
slashing charge sweeps down with lightning e^oed and falcon 
swoop. 

'In the case of a Countess, sir, the imagination is more 
excited,' says Dr. Johnson, who had, I suppose, little oppor- 
tunity of putting that doctrine for amatory intrigues to the 
test in actual practice. Bertie, who had many opportunities, 
differed with him. He found love-making in his own polished 
tranquil circles apt to become a little dull, and was more 
amused by Laura Lelas. However, he was sworn to the 
service of the Guenevere, and he drove his mail-phaeton down 
that day to another sort of Richmond dinner, of which the 
lady was the object instead of the Zu-Zu. 

She enjoyed thinking herself the wife of a jealous and 
inexorable lord, and arranged her flirtations to evade him 
with a degree of skill so great, that it was lamentable it 
should be thrown away on an agricultural husband, who 
never dreamt that the ' FideUo — III — TstnegeR,' which met 
his eyes in the innocent face of his Tivies, referred to an 
appointment at a Regent Street modiste's, or that fi^ adver- 
tisement — * White wins — Twelve,' meant that !> ' he wore 
white cameUias in her hair at the opera, she would give 
* Beauty ' a meeting after it. y 

Lady Guenevere was very scrupulous never to violate con-^ 
ventionalities. And yet she was a little faot — very fast indeed, 
and was a queen of one of the fastest sets ; but then — 
sacred shield of a wife's virtues-she could not have borne to 
lose her very admirable position, her very magnificent jointure,^ ^^ 
and, above all, the superb Guenevere diamonds I -^t^A'- 

I don't know anything that will secure a husband from ^^3*^ 
an infidelity so well as very fine family jewels, when such an ■ 
infidehty would deprive his wife of them for ever. Many 
women will leave their homes, their lords, their children, and 
their good name, if the fancy take them ; but there is not one 
in a miUion who will so far forget herself as to sever from 
pure rose-diamonds. 

So, for sake of the diamonds, she and Bertie had their 
rendezvous under the rose. 

This day she went down to see a dowager Baroness aunt, 
out at Hampton Court — really went : she was never so impru- 
dent as to falsify her word, and with the Dowager, who was 
very deaf and purblind, dined at Richmond, while the world 



104 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

thought her dining at Hampton Court. It waa nothing to 

any one, since none knew it to gossip about, that Cecil joined 

her there : that over the Star and Garter repast they arranged 

their meeting at Baden next month : that while the Baroness 

. dozed over the grapes and peaches — she had been a beauty 

/ herself, in her ov/n day, and still had her sympathies — they 

went on the river, in the little toy that he kept there for his 

) fair friends' use, floating slowly along in the coolness of even- 

l ing, while the stars loomed out in the golden trail of the 

j sunset, and doing a graceful scene d la Musset and Meredith, 

' with a certain languid amusement in the assumption of those 

poetic guises, for they were of the world worldly ; and neither 

believed very much in the other. 

When you have just dined well, and there has been no 
fault in the clarets, and the scene is pretty, if it be not the 
Nile in the afterglow, the Arno in the moonhght, or the 
Loire in vintage-time, but only the Thames above Richmond, 
it is the easiest thing in the world to feel a touch of sentiment 
when you have a beautiful woman beside you who expects you 
to feel it. The evening was very hot and soft. There was a 
low south wind, the water made a pleasant murmur, wending 
among its sedges. She was very lovely, moreover, lying back 
there among her laces and Indian shawls, with the sunset in 
the brown depths of her eyes and on her delicate cheek. And 
Bertie, as he looked on his liege lady, really had a glow of the 
old, real, foolish, forgotten feeling stir at his heart, as he 
gazed on her in the half-light, and thought, almost wistfully, 
,'^_,.* If the Jews were down on me to-morrow, would she really 
,oJ) care, I wonder ? * 

/^ ^ Eeally care? Bertie knew his world and its women too 
.■well to deceive himself in his heart about the answer. Never- 
^theless, he asked the question. ' Would you care much, chdre 
{belk?' 
L ^ * Care what ? ' 

\ * If I came to grief — went to the bad, you know ; dropped 
Vout of the world altogether.' 

She raised her splendid eyes in amaze, with a delicate 
shudder through all her laces. * Bertie I you would break 
my heart ! What can you dream of? * 

* Oh, lots of us end so. How is a man to end ? ' answered 
Bertie, philosophically, while his thoughts still ran off in a 
Bpeculative scepticism. ' Is there a heart to break ? ' 



A STAG HUNT AU CLAIR DE LA LUNE 105 

Her ladyship looked at him and laughed. 

* A Werfcer in the Guards ! I don't think the role will 
Buit either you or your corps, Bertie ; but if you do it, pray 
do it artistically. I remember, last year, diiving through 
Asnieres, when they had found a young man in the Seine ; 
he was very handsome, beautifully dressed, and he held fast 
in his clinched hand a gold lock of hair. Now, there wa3 
a man who knew how to die gracefully, and make his death 
an idyl ! ' 

* Died for a woman ? — ah ! ' murmured Bertie, with the 
Brummel nonchalance of his order. *I don't think I should 
do that, even for you, not, at least, while I had a cigar 
left.' 

And then the boat drifted backward, while the stars grew 
brighter and the last reflection of the sun died out ; and they 
planned to meet to-morrovv', and talked of Baden, and sketched 
projects for the winter in Paris, and went in and sat by the 
window, taking their coJGfee, and feeling, in a half-vague 
pleasure, the heliotrope-scented air blowing softly in from the 
garden below, and the quiet of the starlit river in the summer 
evening, with a white sail gleaming here and there, or the 
gentle splash of an oar following on the swift trail of a 
steamer : the quiet, so still and so strange after the crowded 
rush of the London season. 

* Would she really care?' thought Cecil, once more. In 
that moment he could have wished to think she would. 

But heliotrope, stars, and a river, even though it had been 
tawny and classical Tiber instead of ill-used and inodorous 
Thames, were not things sufficiently in the way of either of 
them to detain them long. They had both seen the Babylo- 
nian sun set over the ruins of the Birs Nimrud, and had 
talked of Paris fashions while they did so; they had both 
leaned over the terraces of Bellosguardo, while the moon wa3 
full on Giotto's tower, and had discussed their dresses for the 
Veglione masquerade. It was not their style to care for these 
matters ; they were pretty, to be sure, but they had seen so 
many of them. 

The Dowager went home in her brougham ; the Countess 
drove in his mail-phaeton, objectionable, as she might be seen, 
but less objectionable than letting her servants know he had 
met her at Richmond. Besides, she obviated danger by 
bidding him set her down at a little villa across the park 



f 



106 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

where dwelt a confidential protegee of hers, whom she patro- 
nised : a former French governess, married tolerably well, 
who had the Countess's confidences, and kept them religiously 
for sake of so aristocratic a patron, and of innumerable re- 
versions of Spanish point and shawls that had never been 
worn, and rings, of which her lavish ladyship had got tired. 

From here she would take her ex-governess's little 
brougham, and get quietly back to her own house in Eaton 
Square in due time for all the drums and crushes at which 
she must make her appearance. This was the sort of little 
devices which really made them think themselves in love, 
and gave the salt to the whole affair. Moreover, there was 
this ground for it, that had her lord once roused from the 
strawyards of his prize cattle, there was a certain stubborn, 
irrational, old-world prejudice of pride and temper in him 
that would have made him throw expediency to the winds, 
then and there, wifch a blind and brutal disregard to slander, 
and to the fact that none would ever adorn his diamonds as 
she did. So that Cecil had not only her fair fame, but her 
still more valuable jewels in his keeping when he started from 
the Star and Garter in the warmth of the bright summer's 
evening. 

It was a lovely night ; a night for lonely Highland tarns, 
and southern shores by Baiie ; without a cloud to veil the 
brightness of the stars ; a heavy dew pressed the odours from 
the grasses, and the deep glades of the avenues were pierced 
here and there with a broad beam of silvery moonlight, slant- 
ing through the massive boles of the trees, and falling white 
and serene across the turf. Through the park, with the 
gleam of the water ever and again shining through the 
branches of the foliage, Cecil started his horses ; his groom he 
had sent away on reaching Richmond, for the same reason as 
the Countess had dismissed her barouche, and he wanted no 
servant, since, as soon as he had sat down his liege lady at 
her proteg6e's, he would drive straight back to Piccadilly. 
But he had not noticed what he noted now, that instead of 
one of his carriage-greys, who had fallen slightly lame, they 
had put into harness the young one, Maraschino, who matched 
admirably for size and colour, but who, being really a hunter, 
though he had been broken to shafts as well, was not the 
horse vdih which to risk driving a lady. 

However, Beauty was a perfect whip, and had the pair 



A STAG HUNT AU CLAIR DE LA LUNE 107 

perfectly in hand, so that he thought no more of the change, 
as the greys dashed at a liberal half-speed through the park, 
with their harness flashing in the moonlight, and their scarlet 
rosettes fluttering in the pleasant air. The eyes beside him, 
the Titian-like mouth, the rich, delicate cheek, these were, to 
be sure, rather against the coolness and science that such a 
five-year-old as Maraschino required ; they were distracting 
even to Cecil, and he had not prudence enough to deny his 
sovereign lady when she put her hands on the ribbons. 

* The beauties I Give them to me, Bertie. Dangerous ! 
How absurd you are ; as if I could not drive anything ! Do 
you remember my four roans at Longchamps ? ' 

She could, indeed, with justice, pique herself on her skill : 
she drove matchlessly ; but as he resigned them to her, Maras- 
chino and his companion quickened their trot, and tossed 
their pretty thoroughbred heads, conscious of a less powerful 
hand on the reins. 

'I shall let their pace out, there is nobody to run over 
here,' said her ladyship. ' "Va-t'en done, mon beau monsieur." ' 

Maraschino, as though hearing the flattering conjuration, 
swung off into a light, quick canter, and tossed his head 
again ; he knew that, good whip though she was, he could 
jerk his mouth free in a second if he wanted. Cecil laughed, 
prudence was at no time his virtue, and leant back con- 
tentedly, to be driven at a slashing pace through the balmy 
summer's night, while the ring of the hoofs rang merrily 
on the turf, and the boughs were tossed aside with a dewy 
fragrance. As they went, the moonlight was shed about their 
path in the full of the young night, and at the end of a vista 
of boughs, on a grassy knoll, were some phantom forms, the 
same graceful shapes that stand out against the purple heather 
and the tawny gorse of Scottish moorlands, while the lean 
rifle-tube creeps up by stealth. In the clear starlight there 
stood the deer, a dozen of them, a clan of stags alone, \\ith 
their antlers clashing like the clash of swords, and v/aving 
like swaying banners as they tossed their heads and listened.^ 

^ Let me here take leave to beg pardon of the gallant Highland stags 
for comparing them one instant with the shabby, miserable-looking 
wretches that travesty them in Richmond Park. After seeing these 
latter scrubby, meagre apologies for deer, one wonders why something 
better cannot be turned loose there. A hunting-mare I know well, 
nevertheless flattered them thus by racing them through the park; 
when in harness herself, to her own great disgust. 



io8 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

In an instant the hunter pricked his ears, snuffed the aif, 
and twitched with passionate impatience at his bit ; another 
instant and he got his head, and launching into a sweeping 
gallop rushed down the glade. 

Cecil sprang forward from his lazy rest, and seized the 
ribbons that in one instant had cut his companion's gloves to 
stripes. 

* Sit still,' he said calmly, but under his breath. * He has 
been always ridden with the Buckhounds ; he will race the 
deer as sure as we live ! * 

Race the deer he did. 

Startled, and fresh for their favourite nightly wandering, 
the stags were off like the wind at the noise of alarm, and 
the horses tore after them ; no skill, no strength, no science, 
could avail to pull them in, they had taken their bits be- 
tween their teeth, and the devil that was in Maraschino lent 
the contagion of sympathy to the young carriage mare, who 
had never gone at such a pace since she had been first put in 
her break. 

Neither Cecil's hands nor any other force could stop them 
now; on they went, hunting as straight in line as though 
staghounds streamed in front of them, and no phaeton rocked 
and swayed in a dead and dragging weight behind them. In 
a moment he gauged the closeness and the vastness of the 
peril; there was nothing for it but to trust to chance, to 
keep his grasp on the reins to the last, and to watch for the 
first sign of exhaustion. Long ere that should be given death 
might have come to them both ; but there was a gay excita- 
tion in that headlong rush through the summer night, there 
was a champagne-draught of mirth and mischief in that dash 
through the starlit woodland, there was a reckless, breathless 
pleasure in that neck-or-nothing moonlight chase ! 

Yet danger was so near with every oscillation ; the deer 
were trooping in fast flight, now clear in the moonlight, now 
lost in the shadow, bounding with their lightning grace over 
Bward and hillock, over briar and brushwood, at that speed 
which kills most living things that dare to race the * IMonarch 
of the Glens.* And the greys were in full pursuit ; the hunt- 
ing fire was in the fresh young horse ; he saw the shadowy 
branches of the antlers toss before him, and he knew no 
better than to hunt down in their scenting line as hotly aa 
though the field of the Queen's or the Baron's was after 



A STAG HUNT AU CLAIR DE LA LUNE 109 

them. What cared he for the phaeton that rocked and 
reeled on his traces, he felt its weight no more than if it 
were a wicker-work toy, and, extended like a greyhound, he 
swerved from the road, swept through the trees, and tore 
down across the grassland in the track of the herd. 

Through the great boles of the trunks, bronze and black 
in the shadows, across the hilly rises of the turf, through the 
brushwood pell-mell, and crash across the level stretches of 
the sward, they raced as though the hounds were streaming 
in front ; swerved here, tossed there, carried in a whirl- 
wind over the mounds, wheeled through the gloom of the 
woven branches, splashed with a hiss through the shallow 
rain-pools, shot swift as an arrow across the silver radiance 
of the broad moonlight, borne against the sweet south wind, 
and down the odours of the trampled grass the carriage was 
hurled across the park in the wild starlight chase. It rocked, 
it swayed, it shook, at every yard, while it was carried on 
like a paper toy. As yet the marvellous chances of accident 
had borne it clear of the destruction that threatened it at 
every step as the greys, in the height of their pace now, and 
powerless even to have arrested themselves, flew through the 
woodland, neither knowing what they did, nor heeding where 
they went ; but racing down on the scent, not feeling the 
strain of the traces, and only maddened the more by the 
noise of the whirhng wheels behind them. 

As Cecil leaned back, his hands clinched on the reins, his 
sinews stretched almost to bursting in their vain struggle to 
recover power over the loosened beasts, the hunting zest woke 
in him too, even while his eyes glanced on his companion in 
fear and anxiety for her. 

* Tally-ho ! hark forward ! As I live, it is glorious 1 * he 
cried, half unconsciously. * For God's sake sit still, Beatrice ! , 
I will save you.' 

Inconsistent as the words were, they were true to what he 
felt : alone, he would have flung himself dehghtedly into the 
madness of the chase, for her he dreaded with horror the p^\ 
imminence of their peril. ^^^ 

On fled the deer, on swept the horses ; faster in the gleam\ 
of the moonlight the antlered troop darted on through tiie\ 
gloaming ; faster tore the greys in the ecstasy of their free- \ 
dom ; headlong and heedless they dashed through the thick- i 
ness of leaves and the weaving of branches ; neck to neck, I 



no UNDER TWO FLAGS 

straining to distance each other, and held together by the gall 
of the harness. The broken boughs snapped, the earth flew 
up beneath their hoofs, their feet struck scarlet sparks of fire 
from the stones, the carriage was whirled, rocking and totter- 
ing, through the maze of tree- trunks, towering like pillars of 
black stone up against the steel-blue clearness of the sky. 
TThe strain was intense ; the danger deadly : suddenly, straight 
I ahead, beyond the darkness of the foliage, gleamed a line of 
j light ; shimmering, liquid, and glassy, here brown as gloom 
, I where the shadows fell on it, here light as life where the stars 
/ mirrored on it. That trembling line stretched right in their 
\ path. For the first time from the blanched lips beside him a 
■jjry of terror rang. 

* The river I— oh^Jieaven ! — the river ! ' 
There it lay in the distance, the deep and yellow water, 
cold in the moon's rays, with its farther bank but a dull grey 
line in the mists that rose from it, and its swamp a yawning 
grave, as the horses, blind in their delirium, and racing 
against each other, bore down through all obstacles towards its 
brink. Peath was rarely ever closer ; one score yards more, 
one plunge, one crash down the declivity and against the 
rails, one swell of the noisome tide above their heads, and 
life would be closed and passed for both of them. For one 
breathless moment his eyes met hers — in that moment he 
loved her, in that moment their hearts beat with a truer, 
fonder impulseto each'other than they had ever done. Be- 
fore the presence of a threatening death life grows real, love 
grows precious, to the coldest and most careless. 

No aid could come ; not a living soul was nigh ; the soli- 
tude was as complete as though a western prairie stretched 
around them ; there were only the still and shadowy night, 
the chilly silence, on which the beat of the plunging hoofs 
shattered like thunder, and the glisten of the flowing water 
growing nearer and nearer every yard. The tranquillity 
around only jarred more horribly on ear and brain ; the 
vanishing forms of the antlered deer only gave a weirder 
grace to the moonlight-chase whose goal was the grave. It 
was like the midnight hunt after Heme the Hunter; but 
here, behind them, hunted Death. 

The animals neither saw nor knew what awaited them, as 
they rushed down on to the broad, grey stream, veiled from 
them by the slope and the screen of flickering leaves ; to save 



A STAG HUNT AU CLAIR DE LA LUNE iii 

tbern there was but one chance, and that so desperate that 
it looked like madness. It was but a second's thought ; he 
gave it but a second's resolve. 

The next instant he stood on his feet, as the carriage swayed 
to and fro over the turf, balanced himself marvellously as it 
staggered in that furious gallop from side to side, clinched \A ^'■ 
the reins hard in the grip of his teeth, measured the distance 
with an unerring eye, and crouching his body for the spring ^>"^^ 
with all the science of the old playing-fields of his Eton days, 
cleared the dashboard and lighted astride on the back of the 
hunting five -year- old ; how, he could never have remembered, 
or have told. 

The tremendous pace at which they went swayed him with 
a lurch and a reel over the offside ; a woman's cry rang again, 
clear, and shrill, and ago?iised on the night ; a moment more, 
and he would have fallen head downward beneath the horses' 
feet. But he had ridden stirrup-less and saddle-less ere now ; 
he recovered himself with the suppleness of an Arab, and 
firm-seated behind the collar, with one leg crushed between 
the pole and Maraschino's flanks, gathering in the ribbons till 
they were tight-drawn as a bridle, he strained with all the 
might and sinew that were in him to get the greys in hand 
before they could plunge down into the water. His wristsl 
were wrenched like pulleys, the resistance against him was ' 
hard as iron, but as he had risked life and limb in the leap 
which had seated him across the harnessed loins of the now 
terrified beast, so he risked them afresh to get the mastery 
nov; ; to slacken them, turn them ever so slightly, and save 
the woman he loved — loved, at least in this hour, as he liad^ 
not loved her before. Que _^pHaent more, while the haif^^ Jt^ 
maddened beasts rushed through the shadows ; one moment ^ 
njijre-, till the river stretched full before them in all its length' "ij 
and breadth, without a living thing upon its surface to break ^* 
the still and awful calm ; one moment — and the force of cool 
command conquered and broke their wills despite themselves. 
The hunter knew his master's voice, his touch, his pressure, 
and slackened speed by an irresistible, almost unconscious 
habit of obedience ; the carriage mare, checked and galled in 
the full height of her speed, stood erect, pawing the air with 
her forelegs, and flinging the white froth over her withers, 
while she plunged blindly in her nervous terror ; then with a 
crash her feet came down upon the ground, the broken 



112 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

harness shiveredtogetherwitha sharp metallic clash ; snorting, 
panting, quivering, trembling, the pair stood passive and 
vanquished. 

The carriage was overthrown ; but the high and fearless 
courage of the peeress bore her unharmed, even as she was 
flung out on to the yielding fern-grown turf ; fair as she was 
in every hour, she had never looked fairer than as he swung 
himself from the now powerless horses and threw himself 
, beside her. 

* My love — my love, you are saved ! * 

The beautiful eyes looked up half unconscious ; the danger 
told on her now that it was passed, as it does most commonly 
with women. 

* Saved ! — lost ! All the world must know, now, that you 
are with me this evening,' she murmured with a shudder ; 
she lived for the world, and her first thought was of self. 

He soothed her tenderly. 

' Hush — be at rest. There is no injury but what I can 

repair, nor is there a creature in sight to have witnessed the 

accident. Trust in me ; no one shall ever know of this. You 

shall reach town safely and alone.' 

r And while he promised, he forgot that he thus pledged his 

I honour to leave four hours of his life so buried that, however 

much he needed, he neither should nor could account for 

\ them. ^v^ 



,...^''^r' 



CHAPTER IX 

THE PAINTED BIT 



*T, Baden was at its brightest. The Victoria, the Badischer 
jf Hof, the Stephanie Bauer were crowded. The Kurliste had 
\ a dazzling string of names. Imperial grandeur sauntered in 
slippers, chiefs used to be saluted with * Ave Caesar Impera- 
tor,' smoked a papelito in peace over Galignani. Emperors 
gave a good-day to ministers who made their thrones beds of 
thorns, and little kings elbowed great capitalists who could 
have bought them all up in a morning's work in the money 
market. Statecraft was in its slippers, and diplomacy in its 



THE PAINTED BIT 113 

dressing-gown. Statesmen who had just been outwitting 
each other at the hazard of European poHtics laughed good- 
humouredly as they laid their gold down on the colour. Eivala 
who had lately been quarrelling over the knotty points of 
national frontiers now only vied for a twenty-franc rosebud 
from the bouquetUre. Knights of the Garter and Knights of 
the Golden Fleece, who had hated each other to deadliest 
rancour with the length of the Continent between them, got 
friends over a mutually good book on the Eastadt or Foret 
Noir. Brains that were the powder depot of one half of the 
universe let themselves be lulled with the monotone of * Faites 
votre jeu ! * or fanned to tranquil amusement by a fair idiot's 
coquetry. And lips that, with a whisper, could loosen the 
coursing slips of the Vfild hell-dogs of war, murmured love to 
a princess, led the laugh at a supper at five in the morning, 
or smiled over their own caricatures done by Tenniel or 
Cham. 

Baden was full. The^supreme empires of demi-monde 
sent their sovereigns diamoifd- crowned "arid resistless to out- 
shine all other principahties and powers, while in breadth of 
marvellous skirts, in costliness of cobweb laces, in unap- 
proachability of Indian shawls, and gold embroideries, and 
mad fantasies and Cleopatra extravagances, and jewels fit for 
a Maharajah, the Zu-Zu was distanced by none. 

Among the kings and heroes and celebrities who gathered 
under the pleasant shadow of the pine-crowned hills, there 
was not one in his way greater than the steeplechaser, 
Forest King — certes, there was not one half so honest. 

The Guards' crack was entered for the Prix de Dames, the 
sole representative of England. There were two or three 
good things out of French stables, specially a killing little 
bay, L'Etoile, and there was an Irish sorrel, the property of 
an Austrian of rank, of which fair things were whispered ; 
but it was scarcely possible that anything could stand against 
the King, and that wonderful stride of his which spread- 
eagled his field like magic, and his countrymen were well 
content to leave their honour and their old renown to * Eoauty ' 
and his six-year old. 

Beauty himself, with a characteristic philosophy, had a 
sort of conviction that the German race would set every- 
thing square. He stood either to make a very good thing on 
it, or to be very heavily hit. There could be no medium* 

I 



114 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

He never hedged in his Ufa ; and as ife was almost a practical 
impossibility that anything the foreign stables could get 
together would even be able to land within half a dozen 
lengths of the King, Cecil, always willing to console himself, 
and invariably too careless to take the chance of adverse 
accident into account, had come to Baden, and was amusing 
himself there dropping a Friedrich d'Or on the rouge, flirting 
in the shady alleys of the Lichtenthal, waltzing Lady Guene- 
vere down the ballroom, playing ecarte with some Serene 
Highness, supping with the Zu-Zu and her set, and occupy- 
ing rooms that a Russian Prince had had before him, with all 
the serenity of a millionaire as far as memory of money 
went. With much more than the serenity in other matters 
of most millionaires, who, finding themselves uncommonly ill 
at ease in the pot-pourri of monarchs and ministers, of beau- 
monde and demi-monde, would have given half their newly 
turned thousands to get rid of the odour of Capel Court and 
the Bourse, and to attain the calm, negligent assurance, the 
easy, tranquil insolence, the nonchalance with Princes, and 
the supremacy among the Free Lances, which they saw and 
coveted in the indolent Guardsman. 

Bertie amused himself. He might be within a day of his 
ruin, but that was no reason why he should not sip his 
iced sherbet and laugh with a pretty French actress to-night. 
His epicurean formulary was the same as old Herrick's, 
and he would have paraphrased this poet's famous quatrain 
into 

Drink a pure claret while you may, 
Your ' stiff ' is still a-flying ; 

And he who dines so well to-day 
To-morrow may be lying, 

Pounced down upon by Jews tout net, 
' Or outlawed in a French guinguctte \ 

Bertie was a great believer — if the words are not too 
sonorous and too earnest to be applied to his very incon- 
sequent views upon any and everything — in the philosophy 
of happy accident. Far as it was in him to have a con\dction 
at all, which was a thoroughgoing serious sort of thing not 
by any means his * form,' he had a conviction that the 
doctrine of ' Eat, drink, and enjoy, for to-morrow we die,' 
was an universal panacea. He was reckless to the uttermost 
stretch of recklessness, all serene and quiot though his poco- 



THE PAINTED BIT 115 

curantism and his daily manner were ; and while subdued to 
the undeviating monotone and languor of his peculiar set in 
all his temper and habits, the natural daredevil in him took 
out its inborn instincts in a wildly careless and gamester-like 
imprudence with that most touchy-tempered and inconsistent 
of all coquettes — Fortune. 

Things, he thought, could not well be worse with him 
than they were now. So he piled all on one coiipj and stood to 
be sunk or saved by the Prix de Dames. Meanwhile, all the 
same, he murmured Mussetism to the Guenevere under the 
ruins of the Alte Schloss, lost or won a rouleau at the 
roulette-wheel, gave a bank-note to the famous Isabel for a 
tea-rose, drove the Zu-Zu four-in-hand to see the Flat races, 
took his guinea tickets for the Concerts, dmed with Princes, 
lounged arm-in-arm with Grand Dukes, gave an Emperor a 
hint as to the best cigars, and charmed a Monarch by unfold- 
ing the secret of the aroma of a Guards* Punch, sacred to the 
Household. 

* Si on ne meurt pas de d^sespoir^ on f^nit par manger des 
huitres,' said the witty Frenchwoman. Bertie, who believed 
in bivalves, but not in heroics, thought it best to take the 
oysters first, and eschew the despair entirely. 

He had one unchangeable quality — insouciance'^ and he 
had, moreover, one unchangeable faith — the King. Lady 
Guenevere had reached home unnoticed after the accident of 
their moonlight stag-hunt. His brother meeting him a day 
or two after their interview, had nodded affirmatively, though 
sulkily, in answer to his inquiries, and had murmured tha.t it 
was ' all square now.' The Jews and the tradesmen had 
let him leave for Baden without more serious measures than a 
menace, more or less insolently worded. In the same fashion 
he trusted that the King's running at the Bad, with the 
moneys he had on it, would set all things right for a little 
while, when, if his family interest, which was great, would 
get him his step in the First Life, he thought, desperate as 
things were, they might come round again smoothly, without 
a notorious crash. 

' You are sure the King will " stay," Bertie ? ' asked Lady 
Guenevere, who had some hundreds in gloves (and even 
under the rose ' sported a pony ' or so more seriously) on the 
event. 

'Certain! But if he don't, I promise you as pretty a 

l2 



ii6 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

tableau as your Asni^res one ; for your sake, I'll make the 
finish as picturesque as possible ; wouldn't it be well to give 
me a lock of hair in readiness ? ' 

Her ladyship laughed, and shook her head ; if a man killed 
himself she did not desire that her gracious name should be 
entangled with the folly. 

* No, I don't do those things,' she said, with captivating 
waywardness. ' Besides, though the Oos looks cool and 
pleasant, I greatly doubt that under any pressure you would 
trouble it ; suicides are too pronounced for your style, 
Bertie.' 

' At all events, a little morphia in one's own rooms would 
be quieter, and better taste,' said Cecil, while he caught him- 
self listlessly wondering, as he had wondered at Pdchmond, 
if this badinage were to turn into serious fact — how much 
wmild she C9-re. 

" * May your sins be forgiveo you ! * cried Chesterfield, the 
apostle of training, as he and the Seraph came up to the table 
where Cecil and Cos Wentworth were breakfasting in the 
garden of the Stephanien on the race-day itself. * Liqueurs, 
truffles, and every devilment under the sun ? — cold beef, and 
nothing to drink. Beauty, if you've any conscience left ! ' 

* Never had a grain, dear boy, since I can remember,* 
murmured Bertie, apologetically. * You took all the rawnesa 
off me at Eton.' 

* And you've been taking coffee in bed, I'll swear ? ' pur- 
sued the cross-examiner. 

* What if he have ? Beauty's condition can't be upset by 
a little mocha, nor mine either,' said his universal defender, 
and the Seraph shook his splendid limbs with a very pardon- 
able vanity. 

'Huteroih trains ; Ruteroth trains awfully,' put in Cog 
Wentworth, looking up out of a great silver flagon of Bad- 
minton, with when he was ending his breakfast ; and 
referring to the Austrian who was to ride the Paris favourite. 
* Bemember him at La IMarche last year, and the racing at 
Vincennes — didn't take a thing that could make flesh — muscles 
like iron, you know — never touched a soda even ' 

* I've trained too,' said Bertie, submissively ; * look how 
I've been waltzing ! There isn't harder work than that for 
any fellow. A deux- temps with the Duchess takes it out of 
you like any spin over the flat. 



THE PAINTED BIT 117 

His censurers laughed, but did not give in their point. 
'You've run shocking risks, Beauty,' said Ch"festerfield ; 

* the King's in fine running-form, don't say he isn't ; but 
you've said scores of times what a deal of riding he takes. 
Now, can you tell us yourself that you're in as hard condition 
as you were when you won the Military — eh ? ' 

Cecil shook his head with a sigh : 

* I don't think I am ; I've had things to try me, you see. 
There was that Verschoyle's proposal. I did absolutely think 
at one time she'd marry me before I could protest against it ! 
Then there was that shock to one's whole nervous system, 
when that indigo man, who took Lady Laura's house, asked 
ics to dinner, and actually thought we should go ! — and there 
was a scene, you know, of all earthly horrors, when Mrs. 
Gervase was so near eloping with me, and Gervase cut up 
rough, instead of pitying me ; and then the field-days were 
so many, and so late into the season ; and I exhausted myself 
so at the Belvoir theatricals at Easter ; and I toiled so 
atrociously playing Almaviva at your place. Seraph — a private 
opera's galley slave's work ! — and, altogether, I've had a good 
many things to pull me down since the winter,' concluded 
Bertie, with a plaintive self-condolence over his truffles. 

The rest of his condemning judges laughed, and passed 
the plea of sympathy ; the Coldstreamer alone remained cen- 
sorious and untouched. 

* Pull you down ! You'll never pull off the race if you 
sit drinking liqueurs all the morning,' growled that censor. 

• Look at that ! ' 

Bertie glanced at the London telegram tossed across to him, 
Bent from a private and confidential agent. 

' Betting here — 2 to 1 on L'Etoile ; Irish Eoan offered 
and taken freely. Slight decline in closing prices for the 
King ; getting on French bay rather heavily at midnight. 
Fancy there's a commission out against the King. Looks 
suspicious.' Cecil shrugged his shoulders and raised his eye- 
brows a little. 

* All the better for us. Take all they'll lay against me. 
It's as good as our having a * Commission out ' ; and if any 
cads get one against us it can't mean mischief, as it would 
with professional jocks.' 

* Are you so sure of yourself. Beauty ? ' 
Beauty shook his head repudiatingly. 



ii8 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

* Never am sure of anything, much less of myself ; I'm a 
chameleon, a perfect chameleon ! ' 

' Are you so sure of the King, then ? ' 

* My dear fellow, no ! I ask you in reason, how can I be 
sure of what isn't proved ? I like that country fellow the 
old story tells of — he believed in fifteen shillings because he'd 
once had it in his hand ; others, he'd heard, believed in a 
pound ; but, for his part, he didn't, because he'd never seen 
it. Now that was a man who'd never commit himself ; he 
might have had the Exchequer ! I'm the same : I believe 
the King can win at a good many things because I've seen 
him do 'em ; but I can't possibly tell whether he can get this, 
because I've never ridden him for it. I shall be able to tell 
you at three o'clock — but that you don't care for ' 

And Bertie, exhausted with making such a lengthened 
exposition — the speeches he preferred were monosyllabic — 
completed his sins against training with a long draught of 
claret-cup. 

' Then what the devil do you mean by telling us to pile 
cue pots on ycu ? ' asked the outraged Coldstreamer with 
natural wrath. 

* Faith is a beautiful sight I ' said Bertie, with solemnity. 
* If J'm bowled over, you'll be none the less sublime instances 
of heroic devotion ' 

* Offered on the altar of the Jews ! ' laughed the Seraph, 
as he turned him away from the breakfast-table by the 
shoulders. 'Thanks, Beauty; I've "four figures" on you, 
and you'll be good enough to win them for me. Let's 
have a look at the King. They are just going to walk him 
over.' 

Cecil complied. While he lounged away with the others to 
the stables, with a face of the most calm, gentle, weary in- 
difference in the world, the thought crossed him for a second 
of how very near he was to the wind. The figures in his 
betting-book were to the tune of several thousands, one way 
or another. If he won this morning it would be all right, 
of course : if he lost — even Beauty, odd mixture of devil- 
may-care and languor though he was, felt his lips grow, for 
the moment, hot and cold by turns as he thought of that 
possible contingency. 

The King looked in splendid condition ; he knew well 
enough what was up again, knew what was meant by that 



THE PAINTED BIT 119 

extra sedulous dressing-gown, that setting muzzle that had 
been buckled on him some nights previous, the limitation put 
to his drink, the careful trial spins in the grey of the morn- 
ings, the conclusive examination of his plates by a skilful 
hand ; he knew what was required of him, and a horse in 
nobler condition never stepped out in body-clothing, as he 
was ridden slowly down on to the plains of Ifiesheim. The 
Austrian Dragoon, a Count and a Chamberlain likewise, who 
was to ride his only possible rival, the French horse L'Etoile, 
pulled his tawny silken moustaches as he saw the great 
English hero come up the course, and muttered to himself, 
^ U affaire est finie.* L'Etoile was a brilliant enough bay in 
his fashion, but Count Ruteroth knew the measure of his 
pace and powers too thoroughly to expect him to live against 
the strides of the Guards' grey. 

* My beauty, won't you cut those German fellows down ! ' 
muttered Rake, the enthusiast, in the saddling enclosure. 
' As for those fools what go agin you, you'll pat them in a 
hole, and no mistake. French horse, indeed! Why, you'll 
spread-eagle all them .Hossoos' and Meinherrs' cattle in a 
brace of seconds ' 

Rake's foe, the head groom, caught him up savagely. 

* Won't you never learn decent breedin' ? When loe wins 
we wins on the quiet, and when ice loses we loses as if we 
liked it ; all that brayin' and flauntin' and boastin' is only 
fit for cads. The 'oss is in tip-top condition ; let him show 
what he can do over furren ground.' 

* Lucky for him, then, that he hasn't got yoit across the 
pigskin ; you'd rope him, I believe, as soon as look at him, 
if it was made worth your while,' retorted Rake, in caustic 
wrath ; his science of repartee chiefly lay in a successful 
' plant,* and he was here uncomfortably conscious that his 
opponent was in the right of the argument, as he started 
through the throng to put his master into the * shell ' of the 
Shire-famous scarlet and white. 

* Tip-top condition, my boy — tip-top, and no mistake,' 
murmured Mr. Willon, for the edification of those around 
them, as the saddle-girths were buckled on, and the Guards' 
crack stood the cynosure of every eye at Iffesheim. 

Then, in his capacity as head attendant on the hero, he 
directed the exercise-bridle to be taken off, and with his own 
hands adjusted a new and handsome one, slung across his arm. 



120 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

• 'Tis a'most a pity. 'Tis a'niost a pity,' thought the 
worthy, as he put the curb on the King ; ' but I shouldn't 
have been haggravated with that hinsolent soldiering chap. 
There, my boy, if you'll win with a painted quid, I'm a 
Dutchman.' 

Forest King champed his bit between his teeth a little ; it 
tasted bitter ; he tossed his head and licked it wath his tongue 
impatiently ; the taste had got down his throat and he did 
not like its flavour : he turned his deep, lustrous eyes w'ith a 
gentle patience on the crowd about him as though asking 
them what w^is the matter with him. No one moved his 
bit ; the only person who could have had such authority was 
busily giving the last polish to his coat with a fine handker- 
chief — that glossy neck which had been so dusted many a 
time wath the cobweb coronet-broidered ha^ndkerchiefs of 
great ladies — and his instincts, glorious as they were, were 
not w^ise enough to tell him to kick his head groom down, then 
and there, with one mortal blow, as his poisoner and be- 
trayer. 

The King chafed under the taste of that * painted quid * ; 
he felt a nausea as he swallowed, and he turned his handsome 
head with a strange, pathetic astonishment in his glance ; at 
that moment a familiar hand stroked his mane, a familiar 
foot was put into his stirrup, Bertie threw himself into saddle, 
the lightest weight that ever gentleman-rider rode, despite 
his six-foot length of limb. The King, at the well-known 
touch, the well-loved voice, pricked his delicate ears, quivered 
in all his frame with eager excitation, snuffed the air rest- 
lessly through his distended nostrils, and felt every vein 
under his satin skin thrill and swell with pleasure ; he w^as 
all impatience, all power, all longing, vivid intensity of life. 
If only that nausea would go ! He felt a restless sickliness 
stealing on him that his young and gallant strength had never 
known since he was foaled. But it was not in the King to 
yield to a little ; he flung his head up, champing angrily at 
the bit, then w^alked down to the starting-post with his old 
calm, collected grace ; and Cecil, looking at the glossy bow 
of the neck, and feeling the width of the magnificent ribs 
beneath him, stooped from his saddle a second as he rode out 
of the enclosure, and bent to the Seraph. 

* Look at him, Rock ! the thing's as good as won.' 

The day was very warm and brilliant ; all Baden had come 



THE PAINTED BIT lai 

down to the race-course, continuous strings of carriages, with 
their four or six horses, and postilHons, held the line far down 
over the plains ; mob there was none, save of women in 
matchless toilets, and men with the highest names in the 

* Almanach de Gotha ' ; the sun shone cloudlessly on the broad 
green plateau of Iftesheim, on the white amphitheatre of 
chalk hills, and on the glittering silken folds of the flags of 
England, France, Prussia, and of the Grand Duchy itself, that 
floated from the summits of the Grand Stand, Pavilion, and 
Jockey Club. 

The ladies, descending from the carriages, swept up and 
down on the green course that was so free from * cads ' and 

* legs,' their magnificent skirts trailing along without the risk 
of a grain of dust, theu- costly laces side by side with the 
Austrian uniforms of the mihtary men from Rastadt. The 
betting was but slight ; the Paris formulas, * Combien contre 
I'Etoile ? * * Six cents francs sur le cheval Anglais,' echoing 
everywhere in odd contrast with the hubbub and striking 
clamour of English betting-rings ; the only approach to any- 
thing like * real business ' being transacted between the 
members of the Household and those of the Jockey Clubs. 
Iffesheim was pure pleasure, like every other item of Baden 
existence, and all aristocratic, sparkling, rich, amusement- 
seeking Europe seemed gathered there under the sunny skies, 
and on every one's lips in the titled throng was but one name 
— Forest King's. Even the coquettish bouquet-sellers, who 
remembered the dresses of his own colours which Cecil had 
given them last year when he had won the Rastadt, would 
sell nothing except little twin scarlet and white moss rose- 
buds, of which thousands were gathered and died that morn- 
ing in honour of the English Guards' champion. 

A slender event usually, the presence of the renowned 
crack of the Household Cavalry made the Prix de Dames the 
most eagerly watched-for entry on the card, and the rest of 
the field were scarcely noticed as the well-known gold- 
broidered jacket came up at the starting-post. 

The King saw that blaze of light and colour over course 
and stands that he knew so well by this time ; he felt the 
pressure round him of his foreign rivals as they reared and 
pulled and fretted and passaged; the old longing quivered 
in all his eager limbs, the old fire wakened in all his daunt- 
less blood ; like the charger at sound of the trumpet-call, he 



^1112 ^ ^h^ ^ UNDER TWO FLAGS 

i lived in his past victories, and was athirst for more. But yet 

j between him and the sunny morning there seemed a dim 

' hazy screen on his delicate ear — the famihar clangour smote 

' with something dulled and strange ; there seemed a numb- 

i ness stealing down his frame ; he shook his head in an unusual 

I and irritated impatience ; he did not know what ailed him. 

; The hand he loved so loyally told him the work that wag 

; wanted of him ; but he felt its guidance dully, too, and the 

; dry, hard, hot earth, as he struck it with his hoof, seemed to 

' sway and heave beneath him ; the opiate had stolen into hig 

veins, and was creeping stealthily and surely to the sagacious 

brain, and over the clear, bright senses. 

The signal for the start was given; the first mad head- 
long rush broke away with the force of a pent-up torrent 
suddenly loosened ; every instinct of race and custom, and of 
that obedience which rendered him flexible as silk to hig 
rider's will, sent him forward with that stride which made 
the Guards' crack a household word in all the Shires. For a 
moment he shook himself clear of all his horses, and led of!" in 
the old grand sweeping canter before the French bay three 
lengths in one single efibrt. 

Then into his eyes a terrible look of anguish came ; the 
numb and sickly nausea was upon him, his legs trembled, 
before his sight was a blurred whirling mist ; all the strength 
and force and mighty life within him felt ebbing out, yet ha 
struggled bravely. He strained, he panted ; he heard the 
thundering thud of the first flight gaining nearer and nearer 
upon him ; he felt his rivals closing hotter and harder in on 
him ; he felt the steam of his opponent's smoking, foam-dashed 
withers burn on his own flanks and shoulders ; he felt the 
m addening pressure of a neck-to-neck struggle ; he felt what 
n all his victorious life he had never known — the paralysis of 
defeat. 

The glittering throngs spreading over the plains gazed at 
him in the sheer stupor of amazement ; they saw that the 
famous English hero was dead beat as any used-up knacker. 

One second more he strove to wrench himself through the 
throng of his horses ; through the headlong crushing press ; 
tlirongh — worst foe of all ! — the misty darkness curtaining 
bis sight ! One second more he tried to wrestle back the old 
life into his limbs, the unworn power and freshness into 
nerve and sinew. Then the darkness fell utterly ; the mighty 



•PETITE RETNE' 123 

heart failed ; he could do no more — and his rider's hand 
Blackened and turned him gently backward, his rider's voice 
Bounded very low and quiet, to those who, seeing that every 
effort was hopeless, surged and clustered round his saddle. 

* Something ails the King,' said Cecil, calmly ; ' he is fairly 
knocked off his legs. Some vet. must look to him ; ridden a 
yard farther he will fall.' - > 

Words so gently spoken ! — yet in the single minute that 
alone had passed since they had left the Starter's Chair, a 
lifetime seemed to have been centred alike to Forest King J 
and to his owner. y 

The field swept on with a rush without the favourite ; and 
the Prix de Dames was won by the French bay L'Etoile. 



CHAPTER X 

* PETITE REINE' 

When a young Prussian had shot himself the night before 
for roulette losses, the event had not thrilled, startled, and 
impressed the gay Baden gathering one tithe so gravely and 
so enduringly as did now the unaccountable failure of the 
great Guards' crack. 

Men could make nothing of it save the fact that there was 
* something dark * somewhere. The * painted quid ' had 
done its work more thoroughly than Willon and the Welsher ) 
had intended ; they had meant that the opiate should be just v^ 
sufficient to make the favourite off his speed, but not to take F 
effects so palpable as these. It was, however, so deftly pre^ J^ 
pared, that under examination no trace could be found of it,( ^ ^ 
and the results of veterinary investigation, while it left un-/ 
removed the conviction that the horse had been doctored,,, 
could not explain when or how, or by what medicines.^ 
Forest King had simply * broken down ' ; favourites do this 
on the flat and over the farrow from an overstrain, from a 
railway journey, from a touch of cold, from a sudden decay of 
power, from spasm, or from vertigo ; those who lose by them 
may think what they will of 'roping,' or 'painting,' or 
•nobbling,' but what can they prove ? 



Y. 124 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

■J "^ Even in the great scandals that come before the autocrats 

rt ^of the Jockey Club, where the tampering is clearly known, 

^ : can the matter ever be really proved and sifted ? Very rarely : 

^ ^ the trainer affects stolid unconsciousness or unimpeachable 

^.;i respectability ; the hapless stable-boy is cross-examined, to 

^ ^"' protest innocence and ignorance, and most likely protest them 

J ^, rightly ; he is accused, dismissed, and ruined ; or ^some young 

^; "^~. jock has a 'caution' out everywhere against him, and never 

V again can get a mount even for the commonest handicap ; but, 

,. as^a rule,- the jeal criminals are never unearthed, and by con- 

^ sequence are never reached and punished. 

The Household, present and absent, were heavily hit; 
they cared little for the * crushers ' they incurred, but their 
champion's failure, when he was in the face of Europe, cut 
them down more terribly. The fame of the English riding- 
men had been trusted to Forest King and his owner, and they 
who had never before betrayed the trust placed in them had 
broken down like any screw out of a livery-stable, like any 
jockey bribed to ' pull ' at a suburban selling-race. It was 
fearfully bitter work, and unanimous to a voice the indignant 
murmur of 'doctored' ran through the titled fashionable 
crowds on the Baden course in deep and ominous anger. 

The Seraph's grand wrath poured out fulminations against 
the wicked doer, whosoever he was, or wheresoever he lurked ; 
and threatened, with a vengeance that would be no empty 
words, the direst chastisement of the * Club,' of which both 
his father and himself were stewards, upon the unknown 
criminal. The Austrian and French nobles, while winners by 
the event, were scarce in less angered excitement ; it seemed 
to cast the foulest slur upon their honour, that upon foreign 
ground, the renowned English steeplechaser should have been 
tampered with thus ; and the fair ladies of either world added 
the influence of their silver tongues, and were eloquent in the 
vivacity of their sympathy and resentment with a unanimity 
women rarely show in savouring defeat, but usually reserve 
for the fairer opportunity of swaying the censer before 
success. 

Cecil alone amid it all was very quiet : he said scarcely a 
word, nor could the sharpest watcher have detected an altera- 
tion in his countenance. Only once, when they talked around 
him of the investigations of the Club, and of the institution of 
inquiries to discover the guilty traitor, he looked up with a 



•PETITE REINE' 125 

Budden, dangerous lighting of his soft, dark, hazel eyes, under 
the womanish length of their lashes : * When you find him, 
leave him to me.' ^ 



The light wag gone again in an instant ; but those who 
knew the wil^ strain that ran in the Royallieu blood knew by \ 
it that, despite his gentle temper, a terrible reckoning for the 
evil done his horse might come some day from the Quietist. 

He said little or nothing else, and to the sympathy and 
indignation expressed for him on all sides he answered with 
his old listless calm. But, in truth, he barely knew what 
was saying or doing about him ; he felt like a man stmmed 
and crushed with the violence of some tremendous fall ; the 
excitation, the agitation, the angry amazement around him 
(growing as near clamour and tumult as was possible in those 
fashionable betting-circles, so free from roughs and almost 
free from bookmakers), the conflicting opinions clashing here 
and there, even, indeed, the graceful condolence of the 
brilliant women, were insupportable to him. He longed to 
be out of this world which had so well amused him ; he 
longed passionately, for the first time in his life, to be alone. ^| 

For he knew that with the failure of Forest King had gone l\/' 
the last plank that saved him from ruin ; perhaps the last'/V* 
chance that stood between him and dishonour. He had never 
looked on it as within the possibilities of hazard that the 
horse could be defeated ; now, little as those about him knew 
it, an absolute and irremediable disgrace fronted him. For, 
secure in the issue of the Prix de Dames, and compelled to 
weight his chances in it very heavily, that his winnings might 
be wide enough to relieve some of the debt-pressure upon 
him, his losses now were great, and he knew no more how to 
raise the moneys to meet them than he would have known 
how to raise the dead. 

The blow fell with crashing force ; the fiercer because his ( 
indolence had persisted in ignoring his danger, and because ' 
his whole character was so naturally careless, and so habituated ' 
to ease and to enjoyment. 

A bitter, heart-sick misery fell on him ; the tone of honour 
was high with him ; he might be reckless of everything else, 
but he could never be reckless in what infringed, or went 
nigh to infringe, a very stringent code. Bertie never rea- 
soned in that way ; he simply followed the^ instincts of hia 
breeding without analysing them; but these led hmfsafely 



126 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

and Burely right in all his dealings with his fellow-men, 

however open to censure his life might be in other matters. 

' Careless as he was, and indifferent, to levity, in many things, 

his ideas of honour were really very pure and elevated ; he 

; suffered proportionately now, that through the follies of his 

f own imprudence, and the baseness of some treachery he could 

1' neither sift nor avenge, he saw himself driven down into ag 
close a jeopardy of disgrace as ever befell a man who did not 
wilfully, and out of guilty coveting of its fruits, seek it. 

For the first time in his Ufe the society of his troops of 
acquaintance became intolerably oppressive ; for the first time 
in his life he sought refuge from thought in the stimulus of 
drink, and dashed down neat Cognac as though it were iced 
Badminton, as he drove with his set off the disastrous plains 
of Iffesheim. He shook himself free of them as soon as he 
could ; he felt the chatter round him insupportable ; the men 
were thoroughly good-hearted, and though they were sharply 
hit by the day's issue, never even by implication hinted at 
owing the disaster to their faith in him ; but the very cor- 
diality and sympathy they showed cut him the keenest — the 
very knowledge of their forbearance mads his own thoughts 
darkest. 

Far worse to Cecil than the personal destruction the day's 
calamity brought him was the knowledge of the entire faith 
these men had placed in him, and the losses which his own 
mistaken security had caused them. Granted he could neither 
guess nor avert the trickery which had brought about his 
failure ; but none the less did he feel that he had failed them ; 
none the less did the very generosity and magnanimity they 
showed him sting him Hke a scourge. 

He got away from them at last, and wandered out alone into 
the gardens of the Stephanien, till the green trees of an alley 
shut him in in solitude, and the only echo of the gay world 
of Baden was the strain of a band, the light mirth of a laugh, 
or the roll of a carriage sounding down the summer air. 

It was eight o'clock ; the sun was slanting to the west in a 
cloudless splendour, bathing the bright scene in a rich golden 
glow, and tingeing to bronze the dark masses of the Black 
Forest. In another hour he was the expected guest of a 
Russian Prince at a dinner-party, where all that was highest, 
fairest, greatest, most powerful, and most bewitching of every 
nationahty represented there would meet ; and in the midst 



•PETITE REINE' 127 

of this radiant whirlpool of extravagance and pleasure, where 
every man worth owning as such was his friend, and every 
woman whose smile he cared for welcomed him, he knew 
himself as utterly alone, as utterly doomed, as the lifeless 
Prussian lying in the deadhouse. No aid could serve him, 
for it would have been but to sink lower yet to ask or to take 
it ; no power could save him from the ruin which in a few 
days later at the farthest would mark him out for ever an 
exiled, beggared, perhaps dishonoured man — a debtor and an 
alien. 

AVhere he had thrown himself on a bench beneath a moun- 
tain-ash, trying vainly to realise this thing which had come 
upon him, and to meet which not training, nor habit, nor 
a moment's grave reflection had ever done the slightest to 
prepare him, gazing blankly and unconsciously at the dense 
pine-woods and rugged glens of the forest that sloped upwards 
and around above the green and leafy nest of Baden, he 
v/atched mechanically the toiling passage of a charcoal-burner 
going up the hillside in the distance through the firs. 

* Those poor devils envy us 1 ' he thought. * Better be 
one of them ten thousand times than be trained for the Great 
Race, and started with the cracks, dead weighted with the 
penalty-shot of Poverty I ' 

A soft touch came on his arm as he sat there ; he looked 
up, surprised : before him stood a dainty, delicate, little form, 
all gay with white lace, and broideries, and rose ribbons, and 
floating hair fastened backward v/ith a golden fillet ; it was 
that of the little Lady Venetia, the only daughter of the House 
of Lyonnesse, by a late marriage of his Grace, the eight-year- 
old sister of the'colossal Seraph ; the plaything of a young and 
lovely mother, who had flirted in Belgravia with her future 
stepson before she fell sincerely and veritably in love with the 
gallant and still handsome Duke. 

Cecil roused himself and smiled at her; he had been by 
months together at Lyonnesse most years of the child's life, 
and had been gentle to her as he was to every living thing, 
though he had noticed her seldom. 

* Well, Petite Reine,' he said kindly, bitter as his thoughts 
were, calling her by the name she generally bore, * all alone ? 
\Vhere are your playmates ? ' 

' Petite Reine,' who, to justify her sohriquetf was a grand, 
imperial, little lady^ bent her delicate head — a very delicate 



12.8 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

head, indeed, carrying itself royally, young though it 
was. 

* Ah I you know I never care for children I ' 

It was said so disdainfully, yet so sincerely, without a 
touch of afTectation, and so genuinely, as the expression of a 
matured and contemptuous opinion, that even in that moment 
it amused him. She did not wait an answer, but bent nearer, 
with an infinite pity and anxiety in her pretty eyes. 

*I want to know ; you are so vexed, are you not? 

They say you have lost all your money ! ' 

' Do they ? They are not far wrong then. Who are 
"they," Petite Reine ? ' 

' Oh, Prince Alexis, and the Due de Lorance, and Mamma, 
and everybody. Is it true ? ' 

* Very true, my little lady.' 

' Ah ! ' she gave a long sigh, looking pathetically at him, 
with her head on one side, and her lips parted ; ' I heard the 
Russian gentleman saying that you were ruined. Is that true, 
too ? ' 

'Yes, dear,' he answered wearily, thinking little of the 
child in the desperate excess to which his life had come. 

Petite Reine stood by him silent ; her proud, imperial young 
ladyship had a very tender heart, and she was very sorry ; 
she had understood what had been said before her of him, 
vaguely, indeed, and with no sense of its true meaning, yet 
still, with the quick perception of a brilliant and petted child. 
Looking at her, he saw with astonishment that her eyes were 
filled with tears ; he put out his hand and drew her to him. 

* Why, little one, what do you know of these things ? How 
did you find me out here ? * 

She bent nearer to him, swaying her slender figure, with ita 
bright gossamer muslins, like a dainty harebell, and lifting her 
face to his, earnest, beseeching, and very eager. 

* I came — I came — please don't be angry — because I heard 
them say you had no money, and I w\ant you to take mine. 
Do take it ! Look, it is all bright gold, and it is my own, my 
very own. Papa gives it to me to do just what I like with. 
Do take it ; pray do I ' 

Colouring deeply, for the Petite Reine had that true instinct 
of generous natures, a most sensitive delicacy for others, but 
growing ardent in her eloquence and imploring in her entreaty, 
uh© shook on to Cecil's knee, out of a little* enamel sweetmeat- 



« PETITE REINE' i»9 

box, twenty bright Napoleons that fell in a glittering shower 
on the grass. 

He started, and looked at her in a silence that she mistook 
for offence. She leaned nearer, pale now with her excitement, 
and with her large eyes gleaming and melting with passionate 
entreaty. 

' Don't be angry ; pray take it ; it is all my own, and you 
know I have bonbons, and books, and playthings, and ponies, 
and dogs till I am tired of them ; I never want the money, 
indeed I don't. Take it, please take it ; and if you will only 
let me ask papa or Rock they will give you thousands and 
thousands of pounds, if that isn't enough ; do let me I ' 

Cecil, in silence still, stooped and drew her to him ; when 
he spoke his voice shook ever so slightly, and he felt his eyes 
dim with an emotion that he had not known in all his careless 
life ; the child's words and action touched him deeply ; the 
caressing generous innocence of the offered gift beside the i 
enormous extravagance and hopeless bankruptcy of his career, j 
smote him with a keen pang, yet moved him with a strange i 
pleasure. 

*PeLt^e Eeine,' he murmured gently, striving vainly for 
his old lightness — ' Petite Reine, how some man will love 
you one day I Thank you from my heart, my little innocent 
friend.* 

Her face flushed with gladness; she smiled with all a 
child's unshadowed joy. 

* Ah ! then you will take it ? and if you want more only 
let me ask them for it. Papa and Philip never refuse me 
anything ! * 

His hand wandered gently over the shower of her hair, as 
he put nback the Napoleons that he had gathered up into her 
azure bonbonnUre. 

* Petite Reine, you are a little angel ; but I cannot take 
your money, my child, and you must ask for none for my sake 
from your father or from Rock. Do not look so grieved, little 
one ; I love you none the less because I refuse it.' 

Petite Reine'h face was very pale and grave ; a delicate face, 
in its miniature feminine childhood almost absurdly like the 
Seraph's ; her eyes were full of plaintive wonder and of 
pathetic reproach. 

* Ah 1 ' she said, drooping her head with a sigh, * it is no 
good to you because it is such a little ; do let me ask for more I * 

s 



130 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

He smiled, but the smile was very weary. 

' No, dear, you must not ask for more ; I have been very 
foolish, my little friend, and I must take the fruits of my 
folly ; all men must. I can accept no one's money, not even 
yours ; when you are older and remember this, you will know 
why ; but I do not thank you the less from my heart.' 

She looked at him pained and wistful. 

* You will not take anything, Mr. Cecil ? ' she asked with 
a sigh, glancing at her rejected Napoleons. 

He drew the enamel honhonniere away. 

* I will take that if you will give it me, Petite Reine, and 
keep it in memory of you.' 

As he spoke, he stooped and kissed her very gently ; the act 
had moved him more deeply than he thought he had it in him 
to be moved by anything, and the child's face turned upwards 
to him was of a very perfect and aristocratic loveliness far 
beyond her years. She coloured as his lips touched hers^ and 
swayed -slightly from him. She was an extremely proud 
young sovereign, and never allowed caresses ; yet she lingered 
by him troubled, grave, with something intensely tender and 
\ pitiful in the musing look of her eyes. She had a perception 
] that this calamity which smote him was one far beyond the 
' ministering of her knowledge. 

J"*- He took the pretty Palais Royal gold-rimmed sweatmeat 

f I box, and slipped it into his waistcoat pocket ; it was only a 

, I child's gift, a tiny Paris toy ; but it had been brought to him 

\ I in a tender compassion, and he did keep it ; kept it through 

^ ! dark days and wild nights, through the scorch of the desert 

J ! and the shadows of death, till the young eyes that quesoioned 

N 1 him now with such innocent wonder had gained the grander 

P I lustre of their womanhood and had brought him a grief wider 

^^i -than he knew now. 

At that moment, as the child stood beside him under the 
drooping acacia boughs, with the green sloping lower valley 
seen at glimpses through the wall of leaves, one of the men 
of the Stephanien approached him with an EngHsh letter, 
which, as it was marked 'instant,' they had laid apart from 
the rest of the visitors' pile of correspondence. Cecil took it 
wearily — nothing but fresh embarrassments could come to him 
from England — and looked at the little Lady Venetia. 

* You will allow me ? ' 

She bowed her graceful head ; with all the naif uncon- 



'PETITE REINE' 131 

sciousness of a cliild, she had all the manner of the vieilh cottr; 
together they made her enchanting. 

He broke the envelope and read — a blurred, scrawled, 
miserable letter, the words erased with passionate strokes, and 
blotted with hot tears, and scored out in impulsive misery. It 
was long, yet at a glance he scanned its message and its 
meaning ; at the first few words he knew its whole as well as 
though he had studied every line. 

A strong tremor shook him from head to foot, a tremor at 
once of passionate rage and of as passionate pain ; his face 
blanched to a deadly whiteness ; his teeth clinched as though 
he were restraining some bodily suffering, and he tore the 
letter in two and stamped it down into the turf under his 
heel, with a gesture as unlike his common serenity of manner 
as the fiery passion that darkened in his eyes was unlike the 
habitual softness of his too pliant and too unresentful temper. 
He crushed the senseless paper again and again down into the 
grass beneath his heel ; his lips shook under the silky abund- 
ance of his beard : the natural habit of long usage kept him 
from all utterance, and even in the violence of its shock he 
remembered the young Venetia's presence ; but, in that one 
fierce, unrestrained gesture, the shame and suffering upon him 
broke out despite himself. 

The child watched him, startled and awed. She touched 
his hand softly. 

' What is it ? — is it anything worse ? ' 

He turned his eyes on her with a dry, hot, weary anguish 
in them ; he was scarcely conscious what he said or what he 
answered. 

* Worse — worse ? ' he repeated m.echanically, while his 
heel still ground down in loathing the shattered paper into 
the grass. * There can be nothing worse ! It is the vilest, \ 
blackest sliameZ 

He spoke to his thoughts, not to her : the words died in 
his throat ; a bitter agony was on him ; all the golden summer 
evening, all the fair green world about him, were indistinct 
and unreal to his senses ; he felt as if the whole earth were 
of a sudden changed; he could not realise that this thing 
could come to him and his — that this foul (dishonour could 
creep up and stain them — that this infamy "could ever 
be of them and upon them. All the ruin that before had 
fallen on him to-day was dwarfed and banished ; it looked 

s2 



V 



132 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

nothing beside the unendurable horror that reached him 
now. 

The gay laughter of children sounded do^vn the air at that 
moment ; they were the children of a French Princess seeking 
their playmate Venetia, who had escaped from them and from 
their games to find her way to Cecil; he motioned her to 
them ; he could not bear even the clear and pitying eyes of 
the Petite Reine to be upon him now. 

She lingered wistfully ; she did not like to leave him. 
' Let me stay with you,' she pleaded caressingly. You are 
vexed at something ; I cannot help you, but Rock will — the 
Duke will. Do let me ask them ! ' 

He laid his hand on her shoulder : his voice, as he answered, 
was hoarse and unsteady. 

' No ; go, dear. You will please me best by leaving me. 
Ask none — tell none; I can trust you to be silent, Petite 
Reine.' 

She gave him a long, earnest look. 

' Yes,' she answered simply and gravely, as one who accepts, 
and not lightly, a trust. 

Then she went slowly and Imgeringly, with the sun on 

the gold fillet binding her hair, but the tears heavy on the 

] shadow of her silken lashes. When next they met again the 

) lustre of a warmer sun that once burned on the white walls 

j of the palaces of Phoenicia and the leaping flames of the 

Temple of the God of Healing shone upon them, and through 

i the veil of those sweeping lashes there gazed the resistless 

' sovereignty of a proud and patrician womanhood. 

1"^ Alone, his head sank down upon his hands, he gave reina 

^ to the fiery scorn, the acute suffering which turn by turn 

seized him with every moment that seared the words of the 

letter deeper and deeper down into his brain. Until this he 

had never known what it was to suffer ; until this his languid 

creeds had held that no wise man^teels strongly, and that to 

glide through life untroubled and unmoved is as possible as it 

is politic. Now he suffered, he suffered dumbly aa_.a_dog, 

passionately as a barbarmn ; now he was met by that which, in 

the moment of its dealing, pierced his panoplies of indifference, 

and escaped his light philosophies. 

* Oh, God I ' he thought, * if it were anything — anything 
— except Disgrace 1 ' 
In a miserable den, an hour or so before — there are 



» PETITE REINE' 133 

miserable clens even in Baden, that gold-decked reudezvo&g 
of princes, where crowned heads are numberless as couriers, 
and great ministers must sometimes be content with a shake- 
down — two men sat in consultation. Though the chamber 
was poor and dark, their table was loaded with various 
expensive wines and hqueurs ; of a truth, they were flush of 
money, and selected this poor place from motives of conceal- 
ment rather than of necessity. One of them was the 
Welsher, Ben Davis ; the other, a smaller, quieter man, 
with a keen vivacious Hebrew eye and an olive -tinted skin, 
a Jew, Ezra Baroni. The Jew was cool, sharp, and generally 
eilent ; the Welsher, heated, eager, flushed with triumph, 
and glowing with a gloating malignity. Excitement and the 
fire of very strong wines, of whose mintage brandy formed a 
large part, had made him voluble in exultation ; the mono- 
syllabic sententiousness that had characterised him in the 
loose-box at Royallieu had been dissipated under the ardour 
of success ; and Ben Davis, with his legs on the table, a 
pipe between his teeth, and his bloated face purple with a 
brutal contentment, might have furnished to a Teniers the 
personification of culminated cunning and of delighted j\ 
tyranny. --- 1 • j^_.y r ; - ■ '^ "^ 

* That precious Guards swell ! ' he muttered gloatingly^ W 
for the hundredth time. * I've paid him out at last ! B.e \ 
won't take a "Walk Over" again in a hurry. Cuss them /f^'^' 
swells I they allays die so game ; it ain't half a go after all, \ 
giving 'em a facer; they just come up to time so cool under! 

it; all, and never show they are down, even when their 
backers throw up the sponge. You can't make 'em give in 
not even when they're mortal hit ; that's the crusher of it.* 

* Veil, vhat matter that ven you have hit 'em,' expostu-\ "f 
lated the more philosophic Jew. | _£ 

*Why, it is a fleecin' of one,* retorted the Welsher, "^ 
savagely, even amid his successes. ' A clear fleecin' of one. 
If one gets the better of a dandy chap like that, and brings 
him down neat and clean, one ought to have the spice of it. 

One ought to see him wince and cuss 'em all ! — that's 

just what they'll never do. No ! not if it was ever so. You 

may pitch into 'em like old Harry, and those d d fine 

gentlemen '11 just look as if they Uked it. You might strike 
'em dead at your feet, and it's my belief, while they was cold 
fts stones, they'd manage to look not heate7i yeU It's a fleecin* 






134 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

of one — a fleecin' of cue ! ' be growled afresh, draining down 
a great draught of brandy-heated Roussillon to drown the 
impatient conviction which possessed him that, let him 
f'iriumph as be would, there would ever remain, in that fine 
intangible sense which his coarse nature could feel, though he 
could not have further defined it, a superiqritx_in his adver- 
sary; he could not conquer, a difi:erence between him" and "his 
prey be could not bridge over. 
The Jew laughed a little. 

* Vot a shild you are, you Big Ben ! Vot matter how he 
look, so long as you have de success and pocket de monish ? ' 

Big Ben gave a long growl like a mastiff tearing to reach 
a bone just held above him. 

* Hang the blunt I The yellows ain't a quarter worth to 
me what it 'ud be to see him just look as if he knew he was 
knocked over. Besides, lajdng agin' him by that ere com- 
mission's piled up hatsfull of the ready to be sure, I don't say 
it hain't, but there's two tliou' knocked off for Willon, and 
the fool don't deserve a tizzy of it ; he went and put the 
paint on so thick that if the Club don't have a fiare-up about 
the whole thing ' 

* Let dem I ' said the Jew, serenely. * Dey can do vot 
dey like ; dey von't get to de bottom of de veil. Dat Villon 
is sharp ; he vill know how to keep his tongue still ; dey can 
prove nothin' ; dey may give de sack to a stable-boy, or dey 
may tink demselves mighty bright in seein' a mare's-nest, but 
dey vill never come io us.' 

The Welsher gave a loud horse-guffaw of relish and enjoy- 
ment. 

' No I We know the ins and outs of Turf Law a trifle too 
well to be caught napping. A neater thing weren't ever done, 
if it hadn't been that the paint was put a trifle too thick. 
The 'oss should have just run ill, and not knocked over clean 
out o' time like that. However, there ain't no odds a cryin' 
over spilt milk. If the Club do come a inquiry, we'll show 
'em a few tricks that'll puzzle 'em. But it's my belief they'll 
let it off on the quiet ; there ain't a bit of evidence to show 
the *oss was doctored, and the way he went stood quite as 
well for having been knocked oif his feed and off his legs by 
the woyage and sich like. And now you go and put that 
Bwell to the grindstone for Act 2 of the comedy, will 
yer ? ' 



» PETITE REINE' 13S ^, 

Ezra Baroni smiled where he leant against the table looking --^ 
over some papers. , >c 

' Dis is a delicate matter ; don't you come putting your big ^"^ 
paw in it — you'll spoil it all.' 

Ben Davis growled afresh : c 

*No, I ain't a goin'. You know as well as me I can't ~^ 
show in the thing. Hanged if I wouldn't a'most lief risk a ^ 
lifer out at Botany Bay for the sake 0' wringin' my fine ^ 
feathered bird myself, but I daresn't ; if he was to see me in '^ 
it all 'ud be up. You must do it. Get along ; you look ^ 
uncommon respectable. If your coat tails was a little bit y 
longer, you might right and away be took for a parson.' ^ 

The Jew laughed softly, the Welsher grimly, at the com-\"'-~-^ 
pliment they paid the Church ; Baroni put up his papers into \ ^ 
a neat Russia-letter book. Excellently dressed, without a ;^^ 
touch of flashiness, he did look eminently respectable — and ' 
lingered a moment 

' I say, dear shild, vat if de Marquis vant to buy off and 
hush up ? Ten to von he vill ; he care no more for monish: 
than for dem macaroons, and he love his friend, dey'; 
say.' 

Ben Davis took his legs off the table with a crash, and 
stood up, flushed, thirstily eager, almost aggressive in his 
peremptory excitement. 

' Without wringing my dainty bird's neck ? Not for a ^ 
million paid out 0' band ! Without crushing my fine gen- 
tleman down into pov/der ? Not for all the blunt of ever^ 
one of the Eothschilds I Curse his woman's face ! I've\ J: 
got to keep dark now, but when he's crushed, and smashed, ' 
and ruined, and pilloried, and druv' out of this fine world, 
and warned ofi' of all his aristocratic race-courses, then I'll 
come in and take a look at him; then I'll see my brilliant' 
gentleman a worn-out, broken-down swindler, a-dyin' in ^ 
bagnio I ' 

The intense malignity, the brutal hungry lust for ven- 
geance that inspired the words, lent their coarse vulgarity 
something that was for the moment; almost tragical in its 
strength, almost horrible in its passion. Ezra Baroni looked 
at him quietly, then without another word went out — to a 
congenial task. 

'Dat big shild is a fool.' mused the subtler and gentlpr 
Jew. ' Vengeance is but de breath of de vind, it blow for 



>n> I 



136 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

you one day, it blow against you de next : de only real good 
IS monish.* 

The Seraph had ridden back from Iffesheim to the Bad in 
company with some Austrian officers and one or two of his 
own comrades. He had left the Course late, staying to 
exhaust every possible means of inquiry as to the failure of 
Forest King, and to discuss with other members of the New- 
market and foreign jockey clubs the best methods — if method 
there were — of discovering what foul play had been on foot 
with the horse. That there was some, and very foul too, the 
testimony of men and angels would not have dissuaded the 
Seraph, and the event had left him most unusually grave and 
regretful. 

The amount he had lost himself, in consequence, was of 
not the slightest moment to him, although he was extravagant 
enough to run almost to the end even of his own princely 
tether in money matters ; but that * Beauty ' should be cut 
down was more vexatious to him than any evil accident that 
could have befallen himself, and he guessed pretty nearly the 
terrible influence the dead failure would have on his friend's 
position. 

True, he had never heard Cecil breathe a syllable that 
hinted at embarrassment ; but these things get known with 
tolerable accuracy about the town, and those who were 
acquainted, as most people in their set were, with the im- 
poverished condition of the Royallieu Exchequer, however 
hidden it might be under an unabated magnificence of living, 
were well aware also that none of the old Viscount's song 
could have any safe resources to guarantee them from as rapid 
a ruin as they liked to consummate. Indeed, it had of late 
been whispered that it was probable, despite the provisions 
of the entail, that all the green wealth and Norman beauty of 
Royallieu itself would come into the market. Hence the 
Seraph, the best-hearted and most generous-natured of men, 
was worried by an anxiety and a despondency which he would 
never have indulged, most assuredly on his own account, as 
he rode away from Iffesheim after the defeat of his corps' 
champion. 

He was expected to dinner with one of the most lovely of 
foreign Ambassadresses, and was to go with her afterwards to 
the Vaudeville, at the pretty golden theatre, where a troupe 
from the Bouffes were playing ; but he felt anything but m 



•PETITE REINE' 137 

the mood for even her bewitching and — in & marriageable 
sense — safe society, as he stopped his horse at his own hotel, 
the Badischer Hof. 

As he swung himself out of saddle, a well-dressed, quiet, 
rather handsome little man drew near respectfully, lifting his 
hat — it was M. Baroni. The Seraph had never seen the man 
in his Ufe that he knew of, but he was himself naturally frank, 
affable, courteous, and never given to hedging himself behind 
the pale of his high rank ; provided you did not bore him, 
yoii might always get access to him easily enough — the Duke 
used to tell him too easily. 

Therefore, when Ezra Baroni deferentially approached * the 
Most Noble the Marquis of Rockingham, I think ? ' the 
Seraph, instead of leaving the stranger there discomfited, 
nodded and paused with his inconsequent good nature, think- 
ing how much less bosh it would be if everybody could call 
him, Uke his family and his comrades, * Rock.' 

* That is my name,* he answered. ' I do not know you ; 
do you want anything of me ? ' 

The Seraph had a vivid terror of people who 'wanted 
him,' in the subscription, not the police, sense of the word ; 
and had been the victim of frauds innumerable. 

' I wished,' returned Baroni respectfully, but with sufficient 
independence to concihate his auditor, whom he saw at a 
glance cringing subservience would disgust, 'to have the 
opportunity of asking your lordship a very simple question.' 

The Seraph looked a little bored, a little amused. 

' Well, ask it, my good fellow ; you have your oppor- 
tunity I ' he said impatiently, yet good-humom^ed still. 

* Then would you, my lord,' continued the Jew with hia 
strong Hebrew-German accent, * be so good as to favour me by 
saying whether this signa^ture be your own ? * 

The Jew held before him a folded paper, so folded that one 
line only was visible, across which was dashed in bold charac- 
ters, Bochingliam. 

The Seraph put up his eyeglass, stooped, and took a stead- 
fast look, then shook his head. 

* No, that is not mine, at least I think not. Never made 
my R half a quarter so well in my life.' 

*Many thanks, my lord,* said Baroni, quietly. 'One 
question more and we can substantiate the fact. Did your 
lordship indorse any bill on the 15th of last month ? ' 



138 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

The Seraph looked surprised, and reflected a moment. 
'No, I didn't,' he said, after a pause; 'I have done it for 
men, but not on that day ; I was shooting at Hornsey Wood, 
most of it, if I remember right. Why do you ask ? * 

* I will tell you, my lord, if you grant me a private inter- 
view.' 

The Seraph moved away. 'Never do that,' he said, 
briefly ,• ' private interviews,' thought he, acting on past 
experience, * with women always mean proposals, and with 
men always mean extortion.' 

Baroni made a quick movement towards him. 

* An instant, my lord ! This intimately concerns yourself. 
The steps of an hotel are surely not the place in which to speak 
ofit?'^ 

' I wish to hear nothing about it,' replied Rock, putting 
him aside ; while he thought to himself, regretfully, ' That is 
" Etiif," that bit of paper ; perhaps some poor wretch is in a 
scrape. I wish I hadn't so wholly denied my signature. If 
the mischief's done there's no good in bothering the fellow.' 

The Seraph's good nature was apt to overlook such trifles as 
the Law. 

Baroni kept pace with him as he approached the hotel door, 
and spoke very low. 

* My lord, if you do not listen worse may befall the repu- 
tation both of your regiment and your friends.' 

The Seraph swung round ; his careless handsome face set 
stern in an instant ; his blue eyes grave, and gathering an 
ominous fire. 

' Step yonder,' he said curtly, signing the Hebrew towards 
the grand staircase. ' Show that person to my rooms, 
Alexis.' 

But for the publicity of the entrance of the Badischer Hof 
the mighty right arm of the Guardsman might have termi- 
nated the interview then and there in different fashion. 
Baroni had gained his point and was ushered into the fine 
chambers set apart for the future Luke of Lyonnesse ; the 
Seraph strode after him, and, as the attendant closed the door 
and left them alone in the first of the great lofty suite, all 
glittering with gilding, and ormolu, and malachite, and rose 
velvet, and Parisian taste, stood like a tower above the Jew's 
small, slight form ; while his words came curtly, and only by 
a fierce effort, through his lips. 



'PETITE REINE' 139 

* Substantiate what you dare to say, or my grooms shall 
throw you out of that window ! — now ? ' 

Baroni looked up unmoved ; the calm, steady, undisturbed 
glance sent a chill over the Seraph ; he thought if this man 
came but for purposes of extortion, and were not fully sure 
that he could make good what he had said, this was not the 
look he would give, 

* I desire nothing better, my lord,' said Baroni, quietly, 
' though I greatly regret to be the messenger of such an 
errand. This bill, which in a moment I will have the honour 
of showing you, was transacted by my house (I am one of the 
partners of a London discounting firm), endorsed thus by your 
celebrated name. Moneys were lent on it ; the bill was made 
payable at two months' date ; it was understood that you ac- 
cepted it ; there could be no risk with such a signature as yours. 
The bill was negotiated ; I was in Leyden, Lubeck, and other 
places at the period ; I heard nothing of the matter. When I 
returned to London, a little less than a week ago, I saw the 
signature for the first time. I was at once aware that it was 
not yours, for I had some paid bills, signed by you, at hand, 
with which I compared it. Of course, my only remedy was 
to seek you out, although I was nearly certain before your 
present denial that the bill was a forgery.* 

He spoke quite tranquilly still, with a perfectly respectful 
regret, but with the air of a man who has his title to be 
heard, and is acting simply in his own clear right. The 
Seraph listened, restless, impatient, sorely tried to keep the 
passion in which had been awakened by the hint that this 
wretched matter could concern or attaint the honour of his 
corps. 

* Well 1 speak out 1 ' he said, impatiently. * Details are 
nothing. Who drew it? Who forged my name, if it be 
forged. Quick ! give me the paper.' 

' With every trust and every deference, my lord, I cannot 
let the bill pass out of my own hands until this unfortunat« 
matter be cleared up — if cleared up it can be. Your lordship 
shall see the bill, however, of course, spread here upon the 
table ; but first, let me warn you, my Lord Marquis, that 
the sight will be intensely painful to you. Very painful, 
my lord,' added Baroni, impressively. 'Prepare yourself 
for " 

Rock dashed his hand down on the marble table with a 



140 . UNDER TWO FLAGS 

force that made the lustres and the statuettes on it ring and 
tremble. 

' No more words ! Lay the bill there.' 

Baroni bowed and smoothed out upon the console the 
crumpled document, holding it with one hand, yet leaving 
visible with the counterfeited signature one other, the name 
of the forger in whose favour the bill was drawn : that other 
signature was — —Bertie Cecil, 

* I deeply regret to deal you such a blow from such a 
friend, my lord,' said the Jew, softly. The Seraph stooped 
and gazed — one instant of horrified amazement kept him dumb 
there, staring at the written paper as at some ghastly thing ; 
then all the hot blood rushed over his fair, bold face ; he flung 
himself on the Hebrew, and ere the other could have breath 
or warning, tossed him upward to the painted ceiling, and 
hurled him down again upon the velvet carpet, as lightly as a 
retriever will catch up and let fall a wild duck or a grouse, 
and stood over Baroni where he lay. 

' You hound 1 ' 

Baroni, lying passive and breathless with the violence of 
the shock and the surprise, yet keeping — even amid the hurri- 
cane of wrath that had tossed him upwards and downwards as 
the winds toss leaves — his hold upon the document, and his 
clear, cool, ready self-possession. 

*My lord,' he said, faintly, *I do not wonder at your 
excitement, aggressive as it renders you ; but I cannot admit 
that false which I know to be a for ' 

* Silence I Say that word once more and I shall forget 
myself, and hurl you out into the street like the d og^f a Je w 
you are ! ' 

'Have patience an instant, my lord. Will it profit your 
friend and brother-in-arms if it be afterwards said that when 
this charge was brought against him, you, my Lord Rocking- 
ham, had so little faith in his power to refute it that you bore 
down with all your mighty strength in a personal assault upon 
one so weakly as myself, and sought to put an end to the evi- 
dence against him by bodily threats against my safety, and 
by — what will look, legally, my lord, like — an attempt to 
coerce me into silence,and to obtain the paper from my hands 
by violence ? ' 

Faint and hoarse the words were, but they were spoken 
with quiet confidence, with admirable acumen ; they were the 



'PETITE REINE' 141 

very words to lash the passions of his listener into unendurable 
fire, yet to chain them powerless down ; the Guardsman stood 
above him, his features flushed and dark with rage, his eyes 
literally blazing with fury, his lips working under his tawny 
leonine beard. At every syllable he could have thrown himself 
afresh upon the Jew and flung him out of his presence as 
so much carrion ; y^t^thg^impotence that truth so often feels 
caught and meshed in the coils of sul)tlety— the desperate dis- 
advantage at which TJigirt is so often placed when met by the 
cunning science and sophistry of Wrong — held the Seraph in 
their net now. He saw his own rashness ; he saw how his 
actions could be construed till they cast a slur even on the 
man he defended ; he saw how legally he was in error ; how 
legally the gallant vengeance of an indignant friendship might 
be construed into consciousness of guilt in the accused for 
whose sake the vengeance fell. 

He stood silent, overwhelmed with the intensity of his own 
passion, baffled by the ingenuity of a serpent-wisdom he could 
not refute. 

Ezra Baroni saw his advantage : he ventured to raise him- 
self slightly. 

* My lord, since your faith in your friend is so perfect, 
send for him. If he be innocent, and I a liar, with a look 
I shall be confounded.' 

The tone was perfectly impassive, but the words expressed 
a world. For a moment the Seraph's eyes flashed on him 
with a look that made him feel nearer his death than he had 
been near to it in all his days ; but Rockingham restrained 
himself from force. 

* I 7c>ill send for him,' he said briefly ; in that answer there 
was more of menace and of meaning than in any physical 
action. 

He moved, and let Baroni rise, shaken and bruised, but 
otherwise little seriously hurt, and still holding, m a tenacious 
grasp, the crumpled paper. He rang ; his own servant an- 
swered the summons. 

' Go to the Stephanien and inquire for Mr. Cecil. Be quick ; 
and request him, wherever he be, to be so good as to come to 
me instantly — here.* 

The servant bowed and withdrew ; a perfect silence fol- 
lowed between these two so strangely assorted companions ; 
the Seraph stood with his back against the mantelpiece, with 



i(: 



142 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

every sense on the watch to catch every movement of the 
Jew's, and to hear the first eound of Cecil's approach. The 
minutes dragged on ; the Seraph was in an agony of probation 
and impatience. Once the attendants entered to light the 
chandeliers and candelabra ; the full light fell on the dark, 
slight form of the Hebrew, and on the superb attitude, and the 
fair, frank, proud face of the standing Guardsman ; neither 
moved — once more they were left alone. 

The moments ticked slowly away one by one, audible in 
the silence. Now and then the quarters chimed from the 
clock ; it was the only sound in the chamber. 



■J/ 



CHAPTER XI 

FOE A woman's sake 



The door opened — Cecil entered. 

The Seraph crossed the room, with his hand held out ; not 
for his life in that moment would he have omitted that gesture 
of friendship. Involuntarily he started and stood still one 
instant in amaze ; the next, he flung thought away and dashed 
into swift, inconsequent words. 

' Cecil, my dear fellow I — I'm ashamed to eond for you on 
such a blackguard errand. Never heard of such a swindler's 
trick in all my life ; couldn't pitch the fellow into the street 
because of the look of the thing, and can't take any other 
measures without you, you know. I only sent for you to 
expose the whole abominable business, never because I be- 
lieve Hang it 1 Beauty, I can't bring myself to say it 

even ! If a sound thrashing would have settled the matter, 
I wouldn't have bothered you about it, nor told you a syllable. 
Only you are sure, Bertie, aren't you, that I never listened to 
this miserable outrage on us both with a second's thought 
there could be truth in it ? You know me ? you trust me too 
well not to be certain of that ? ' 

The incoherent address poured out from his lips in a breath- 
less torrent ; he had never been so excited in his life ; and he 
pleaded with as imploring an earnestness as though he had 
Been the suspected criminal, not to be accused with having 



FOR A WOMAN'S SAKE 143 

one shadow of shameful doubt against his friend. His words 
would have told nothing except bewilderment to one who 
should have been a stranger to the subject on which he spoke ; 
yet Cecil never asked even what he meant. There was no 
surprise upon his face, no flush of anger, no expression of 
amaze or indignation, only the look which had paralysed Eock 
on his entrance. He stood still and mute. 

The Seraph looked at him, a great dread seizing him lest 
he should have seemed himself to cast this foul thing on his 
brother-in-arms ; and in that dread all the fierce fire of his 
freshly loosened passion broke its bounds. 

* Damnation ! Cecil, can't you hear me ? A hound has 
bi^oiiSkLU'E-^i^st you the vilest charge that ever swiiT^Iers 
frainedj^ an infamyjihat_ he deserves Ao_ be shot for, as if he 
were a dog. He makes me stand before you as if^JT were 
your accuser ; as if J doubted you ; as if 7 lent an ear one 
second to his loathsome lie. I sent for you to confront him, 
and to give him up to the law. Stand out, you scoundrel, 
and let us see how you dare look at us now 1 ' 

He swung round at the last words, and signed to Baroni 
to rise from the couch where he sat. The Jew advanced 
slowly, softly. 

' If your lordship will pardon me, you have scarcely made 
it apparent what the matter is for which this gentleman is 
wanted. You have scarcely explained to him that it is on a 
charge of forgery.' 

The Seraph's eyes flashed on him with a light like a lion's, 
and his right hand clinched hard. 

* By my life I if you say that word again you shall be flung 
in the street, like the cur you are, let me pay what I will for 
it. Cecil, why don't you speak ? ' 

Bertie had not moved : not a breath escaped his lips. He 
stood like a statue, deadly pale in the gaslight. When the 
figure of Baroni rose up and came before him, a great dark- 
ness stole on his face — it was a terrible bitterness, a great J 
horror, a loathing disgust ; but it was scarcely criminality, • 
and it was not fear. Still he stood perfectly silent — a guilty 
man, any other than his loyal friend would have said : guilty, 
and confronted with a just accuser. The Seraph saw that 
look, and a deadly chill passed over him, as it had done at 
the Jew's first charge — not doubt ; such heresy to his creeds, 
such shame to his comrade and his corps could not be in him, 



144 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

but a vague dread hushed his impetuouB vehemence. The 
dignity of the old Lyonnesse blood asserted its ascendency. 

* Monsieur Baroni, make your statement. Later on, Mr. 
Cecil can avenge it.' 

Cecil never moved; once his eyes went to Rockingham 
with a look of yearning, grateful, unendurable pain, but it 
was repressed instantly ; a perfect passiveness was on him. 
The Jew smiled. 

* My statement is easily made, and will not be so new to 
this gentleman as it was to your lordship. I simply charge the 
Honourable Bertie Cecil with having negotiated a bill with my 
firm for £750, on the 15th of last month, drawn in his own 
favour, and accepted at two months' date by your lordship. 
Your signature you, my Lord Marquis, admit to be a forgery 
— with that forgery I charge your friend.' 

* The 15th ! ' 

The echo of those words alone escaped the dry white lips 
of Cecil ; he showed no amaze, no indignation ; once only, as 
the charge was made, he gave a sudden gesture, with a 
sudden gleam, so dark, so dangerous, in his eyes, that his 
comrade thought and hoped that with one moment more the 
Jew would be dashed down at his feet with the he branded 
on his mouth by the fiery blow of a slandered and outraged 
honour. The action was repressed; the extraordinary quiescence, 
more hopeless, because more resigned, than any sign of pain 
or of passion, returned either by force of self-control or by the 
stupor of despair. 

The Seraph gazed at him with a fixed, astounded horror ; 
he could not believe his senses ; he could not realise what he 
saw. His dearest friend stood mute beneath the charge of 
lowest villainy — stood powerless before the falsehoods of a Jew 
extortioner 1 

' Bertie ! Great Heaven 1 * he cried, wellnigh beside 
himself, ' how can you stand silent there ? Do you hear — 
do you hear aright ? Do you know the accursed thing this 
conspiracy has tried to charge you with ? Say something, for 
the love of God 1 I will have vengeance on your slanderer, 
if you take none.' 

He had looked for the rise of the same passion that rang 
in his own imperious words ; for the fearless wrath of an 
insulted gentleman; the instantaneous outburst of a con- 
temptuous denial ; the fire of scorn ; the lightning flash of 



FOR A WOMAN'S SAKE 145 

fury — all that he gave himsolf, all that must be so naturally 
given by a slandered man under a libel that brands him with 
disgrace. He had looked for these as surely as he looked for 
the setting of one sun and the rise of another; he would 
have staked his life on the course of his friend's conduct 
as he would upon his own, and a ghastly terror sent a pang 
to his heart. 

Still — Cecil stood silent ; there was a strange, set, repressed 
anguish on his face that made it chill as stone ; there was 
an unnatural calm upon him ; yet he lifted his head with a 1 
gesture haughty for the moment as any action that his ^ 
defender could have wished. 

* I am not guilty,' he said simply. ^ 
The Seraph's hands were on his own in a close, eager grasp ^ 

almost ere the words were spoken. 4 

* Beauty, Beauty ! never say that to me. Do you think I f 
can ever doubt you ? * 

For a moment Cecil's head sank ; the dignity with which he 
had spoken remained on him, but the scorn of his defiance 
and his denial faded. 

* No, you cannot ; you never will.' . 
The words were spoken almost mechanically, like a man in 4 

a dream. Ezra Baroni, standing calmly there with the tran- ^ 
quillity that an assured power alone confers, smiled slightly -^ 
once more. ^ 

* You are not guilty, Mr. Cecil ? I shall be charmed if we -^ 
can find it so. Your proofs ? ' ^ 

* Proof ? I _giva-you 7ny luord.* ^ 
BaronfFdwed, with a sneer at once insolent but subdued. 

• * We men of business, sir, are — perhaps inconveniently for 
j gentlemen — given to a preference in favour of something more 
> substantial. Your word, doubtless, is your bond among your 
f acquaintance ; it is a pity for you that your friend's name 
\ should have been added to the bond you placed with us. 
I Business men's pertinacity is a little wearisome, no doubt, 
to officers and members of the aristocracy like yourself ; 
. but all the same I must persist — how can you disprove this , 
[charge ? ' ""' 

The Seraph turned on him with the fierceness of a blood- 
hound. 

* You dog ! If you use that tone again in my presence, I 
will double-thong you till you cannot breathe ! ' 

h 



146 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

Baroni laughed a little; he felt secure now, and could 
not resist the. pleasure -of -bra^ving and of torturing ^the^ 
* aristocrats/ 

TTdbn't doubt your will or your strength, my lord ; but 
neither do I doubt the force of the law to make you account 
for any brutality of the prize-ring your lordship may please 
to exert on me.' 

The Seraph ground his heel into the carpet. 

* We waste words on that wretch,' he said abruptly to 
Cecil. ' Prove his insolence the he it is, and we will deal 
with him later on.' 

* Precisely what I said, my lord,' murmured Baroni. * Let 
Mr. Cecil prove his innocence.' 

Into Bertie's eyes came a hunted, driven desperation. 
He turned them on Rockingham with a look that cut him to 
the heart ; yet the abhorrent thought crossed him — was it 
thus that men guiltless looked ? 

* Mr. Cecil was with my partner at 7.50 on the evening 
of the loth. It was long over business hours, but my partner 
to oblige him stretched a point,' pursued the soft, bland, 
malicious voice of the German Jew. If he were not at our 
office — where was he ? That is simple enough.' 

' Answered in a moment ! * said the Seraph, with im- 
petuous certainty. ' Cecil 1 — to prove this man what he is, 
not for an instant to satisfy me — where were you at that 
time on the 15th ?' 

' The 15th ! ' 

* Where were you ? ' pursued his friend. * Were you at 
mess ? at the clubs ? dressing for dinner ? — where ? where ? 

^J There must be thousands of ways of remembering — thousands 
^ of people who'll prove it for you ? * 

r Cecil stood mute still ; his teeth clinched on his under- 
^ lip; he could not speak; — a woman's reputation lay in his 
': silence. 

^ * CanH you remember ? ' implored the Seraph. * You will 
think — you must think 1 ' 

There was a feverish entreaty in his voice. That hunted 
helplessness with which a question so slight yet so momen- 
tous was received was forcing in on him a thought that he 
flung away like an asp. 

Cecil looked both of them full in the eyes — both his accuser 
and his friend. He was held as speechless as though his 



FOR A WOMAN'S SAKE 147 

tongue were paralysed ; he was bound by his word of honour;^ 
he was weig];ted with a woman's secret. 

* Don't look at me so, Bertie, for mercy's sake 1 Speak ! 
where were you ? * 

' I cannot tell you ; but I was not there.' 

The words were calm ; there was a great resolve in them, 
moreover ; but his voice was hoarse and his lips shook. 
He paid a bitter price for the butterfly pleasure of a summer- 
day love. 

* Cannot tell me ? — cannot ? You mean you have for- 
gotten ! ' 

* I cannot tell you : it is enough.' 

There was an almost fierce and sullen desperation in the 
answer; its firmness was not shaken, but the ordeal was ^ 
terrible. A woman's reputation — a thing so lightly thrown. > 
away with an idler's word, a Lovelace!3,^mile ! — that was all V 
he had to sacrifice to clear himself from the toils gathering , J 
around him. That was all ! And his word of honour. S^ 

Baroni bent his head with an ironic mockery of sym- 
pathy. 

' I. feared so, my lord. Mr. Cecil '* cannot tell." As it 
happens, my partner ca7i tell. Mr. Cecil was with him at 
the hour and on the day I specify; and Mr. Cecil trans- 
acted with him the bill that I have had the honour of showing 
you ' 

* Let 7?ie see it.* 

The request was peremptory to imperiousness, yet Cecil 
would have faced his death far sooner than he would have 
looked upon that piece of paper. 

Baroni smiled. 

' It is not often that we treat gentlemen under misfor- 
tune in the manner we treat you, sir ; they are usually dealt 
with more summarily, less mercifully. You must excuse 
altogether my showing you the document ; both you and his 
lordship are officers skilled, I believe, in the patrician science 
of fist-attack.' ^ 

He could not deny himself the pleasure and the rarity of ] 
insolence to the men before him, so far above him in social j 
rank, yet at that juncture so utterly at his mercy. -^ ^ 

-^ * You mean that we should fall foul of you and seize it ? * 
thundered Rockingham in the magnificence of his wrath. 
*Do you judge the world by your own wretched villainieB ? 



148 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

Let him see the paper ; lay it there, or, as there is truth on 
earth, I will kill you where you stand.' 

The Jew quailed under the fierce flashing of those leonine 
eyes. He bowed with that tact which never forsook him. 

' I confide it to your honour, my Lord Marquis,* he said, 
as he spread out the bill on the console. He was an able 
diplomatist. 

Cecil leaned forward and looked at the signatures dashed 
across the paper; both who saw him saw also the shiver, 
like a shiver of intense cold, that ran through him as he did 
so, and saw his teeth clinch tight, in the extremity of rage, 
in the excess of pain, or — to hold in all utterance that might 
be on his hps. 

' Well ? * asked the Seraph, in a breathless anxiety. He 
knew not what to believe, what to do, whom to accuse of, or 
how to unravel this mystery of villainy and darkness ; but 
he felt, with a sickening reluctance which drove him wild, 
that his friend did not act in this thing as he should have 
acted ; not as men of assured innocence and secure honour 
act beneath such a charge. Cecil was unlike himself, unlike 
every deed and word of his life, unlike every thought of 
the Seraph's fearless expectance, when he had looked for 
the coming of the accused as the signal for the sure and 
instant unmasking, condemnation, and chastisement of the 
false accuser. 

' Do you still persist in denying your criminality in the 
face of that bill, Mr. Cecil ? ' asked the bland, sneering, 
courteous voice of Ezra Baroni. 

' I do. I never wrote either of those signatures ; I never 
saw that document until to-night.* 

The answer was firmly given, the old blaze of scorn came 
again in his weary eyes, and his regard met calmly and un- 
flinchingly the looks fastened on him ; but the nerves of his 
lips twitched, his face was haggard as by a night's deep 
gambling ; there was a heavy dew on his forehead — it was 
not the face of a wholly guiltless, of a wholly unconscious 
man ; often even as innocence may be unwittingly betrayed 
into what wears the semblance of self-condemnation. 

* And yet you equally persist in refusing to account for 
your occupation of the early evening hours of the 15th ? 
Unfortunate 1 ' 

* I do ; but in your account of them you lie.' 



FOR A WOMAN'S SAKE 149 

There was a sternness inflexible as steel in the brief sentence. 
Under it for an instant, though not visibly, Baroni flinched ; 
and a fear of the man he accused smote him, more deep, more 
keen than that with v/hich the sweeping might of the Seraph's 
fury had moved him. He knew now why Ben Davis had 
hated with so deadly a hatred the latent strength that slept 

under the Quietist languor and nonchalance of * the d d 

Guards swell.' 

What he felt, however, did not escape him by the slightest 
sign. . 

' As a matter of course you deny it I ' he said, with a polite v 
wave of his hand. * Quite right ; you are not required to / 
criminate yourself. I wish sincerely we were not compelled/ 
to criminate you.' *;,r'-w - v ., v-.( ---..v 

The Seraph's grand," rolling voice broke in ; he had stood 
chafing, chained, panting, in agonies of passion and of misery. 

* M. Baroni ! ' he said hotly, the furious vehemence of his 
anger and his bewilderment obscuring in him all memory of 
either law or fact, ' you have heard his signature and your 
statements alike denied once for all by Mr. Cecil. Your docu- 
ment is a libel and a conspiracy, like your charge ; it is false, 
and you are swindling ; it is an outrage, and you are a scoun- 
drel ; you have schemed this infamy for the sake of extortion : 
not a sovereign will you obtain through it. Were the accu- 
sation you dare to make true, I am the only one whom it can 
concern, since it is my name which is involved. Were it 
true — could it possibly be true — I should forbid any steps to 
be taken in it ; I should desire it ended once and for ever. It 
shall be so now, by God ! ' 

He scarcely knew what he was saying, yet what he did say, 
utterly as it defied all checks of law or circumstance, had so 
gallant a ring, had so kingly a wrath, that it awed and im- 
pressed even Baroni in the instant of its utterance. 

' They say that those fine gentlemen fight hke a thousand 
lions when they are once roused,' he thought. ' I can beheve 
it.' 

* My lord,' he said softly, ' you have called me by many 
epithets and menaced me with many threats since I have 
entered this chamber ; it is not a wise thing to do with a man 
whoknows the law. However, I can allow for the heaF'^~ 
your excitement. Ag regards the rest of your speech, you ^ 
will permit me to say that its wildness of language is only j 



15© UNDER TWO FLAGS 

f equalled by the utter irrationality of your deductions and 
1 your absolute ignorsnce of all legalities. Were you alone 
I concerned and alone the discoverer of this fraud, you could 
i prosecute or not as you please ; but we are the subjects of its 
I imposition — ours is the money that he has obtained by that 
forgery, and we shall in consequence open the prosecution.' 
l._ ' Prosecution 1 ' The echo rang in an absolute agony from 
his hearer ; he had thought of it as, at its worst, only a ques- 
tion between himself and Cecil. 

The accused gave no sign, the rigidity and composure he 
had sustained throughout did not change ; but at the Seraph's 
accent the hunted and pathetic misery which had once before 
gleamed in his eyes came there again ; he held his comrade in 
a loyal and exceeding love. He would have let ail the world 
stone him, but he could not have borne that his friend should 
cast even a look of contempt. 

* Prosecution 1 ' replied Baroni, quietly. 'It is a matter 
of course, my lord, that Mr. Cecil denies the accusation ; it 
is very wise ; the law specially cautions the accused to say 
nothing to criminate themselves. But we waste time in 
words ; and, pardon me, if you have your friend's interest at 
heart, you will withdraw this very stormy championship, this 
utterly useless opposition to an inevitable line of action. I 
must arrest Mr. Cecil ; but I am willing — for I know to high 
families these misfortunes are terribly distressing — to conduct 
everything with the strictest privacy and delicacy. In a 
word, if you and he consult his interests, he will accompany 
me unresistingly ; otherwise I must summon legal force. Any 
opposition will only compel a very unseemly encounter of 
physical force, and with it the publicity I am desirous, for the 
sake of his relatives and position, to spare him.' 

A dead silence followed his words, the silence that follows 
on an insult that cannot be averted or avenged, on a thing too 
hideously shameful for the thoughts to grasp it as reality. 

In the first moment of Baroni's words, Cecil's eyes had 
gleamed again with that dark and desperate flash of a passion 
that would have been worse to face even than his comrade's 
wrath ; it died, however, wellnigh instantly, repressed by a 
marvellous strength of control, whatever its motive. He was 
simply, as he had been throughout, passive — so passive that 
even Ezra Baroni, who knew what the Seraph never dreamt, 
looked at him in wonder, and felt a faint sickly fear of that 



FOR A WOMAN'S SAKE 151 

singular unbroken calm. It perplexed him — tb-e first thing 
which had ever done so in his own peculiar paths of finesse 
and of intrigue. 

The one placed in ignorance between them, at once as it 
were the judge and champion of his brother-in-arms, felt wild 
and blind under this unutterable shame, which seemed to net 
them both in such close and hopeless meshes. He, heir to 
one of the greatest coronets in the world, must see his friend 
branded as a common felon, and could do no more to aid or to 
avenge him than if he were a charcoal-burner toiling yonder 
in the pine-woods 1 His words were hoarse and broken as he 
spoke : 

* Cecil, tell me — what is to be done ? This infamous out- 
rage cannot pass ! cannot go on 1 I will send for the Duke, 
for ' 

* Send for no one.' 

Bertie's voice was slightly weaker, like that of a man ex- 
hausted by a long struggle, but it was firm and very quiet. 
Its composure fell on Rockingham's tempestuous grief and 
rage with a sickly, silencing awe, with a terrible sense of 
some evil here beyond his knowledge and ministering, and of 
an impotence alike to act and to serve, to defend and to 
avenge — the deadhest thing his fearless life had ever known. 

'Pardon me, my lord,* interposed Baroni, *I can waste 
time no more. You must be now convinced yourself of your 
friend's implication in this very distressing affair.' 

' J / ' The Seraph's majesty of haughtiest amaze and 
scorn blazed from his azure eyes on the man who dared say 
this thing to him. ' 7 / If you dare hint such a damnable 
shame to my face again, I will wring your neck with as little 
remorse as I would a kite's. I believe in his guilt ? Forgive 
me, Cecil, that I can even repeat the word I I believe in it ? 
I would as soon believe in my own disgrace— in my father's 
dishonour ! ' 

' How will your lordship account, then, for Mr. Cecil's total 
inability to tell us how he spent the hours between six and 
nine on the 1 5th ? ' 

' Unable ? He is not unable ; he declines ! Bertie, tell 
me what you did that one cursed evening ? Whatever it was, 
wherever it was, say it for my sake, and shame this devil.' 

Cecil would more willingly have stood a line of levelled \\ 
rifle-tubes aimed at his heart than that passionate entreaty 



152 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

from the man be loved best on earth. Pie staggered slightly, 
as if be were about to fall, and a faint white foam came on 
his lips ; but he recovered himself almost instantly. It was 
BO natural to him to repre ss every, emotion that it was simply 
old habit to do so now. 

* I have answered,' he said very low, each word a pang — 
• I cannot.' 

Baroni waved his hand again with the same polite signifi- 
cant gesture. 

' In that case, then, there is but one alternative. Will you 
follow me quietly, sir, or must force be employed ? ' 

' I will go with you. ' 

The reply was very tranquil, but in the look that met hig 
own as it was given, Baroni saw that some other motive 
than that of any fear was its spring ; that some cause beyond 
the mere abhorrence of a ' scene * was at the root of the 
quiescence. 

* It must be so,' said Cecil huskily to his friend. * This 
man is right, so far as he knows. He is only acting on his 
own convictions. We cannot blame him. The whole is — a 
mystery, an error. But, as it stands, there is no resistance.' 

' Resistance ! By God I I would resist if I shot him dead, 
or shot myself. Stay — wait — one moment! If it be an 
error in the sense you mean, it must be a forgery of your name 
as of mine. You think that ? * 

* I did not say so.' 

The Seraph gave him a rapid, shuddering glance ; for once 
the suspicion crept in on him — tvas this guilt ? Yet even now 
the doubt would not be harboured by him. 

* Say so — you must mean so ! You deny them as yours ; 
what can they be but forgeries ? There is no other expla« 
nation. I think the whole matter a conspiracy to extort 
money ; but 1 may be wrong — let that pass. If it be, on the 
contrary, an imitation of both our signatures that has been 
palmed off upon these usurers, it is open to other treatment. 
Compensated for their pecuniary loss, they can have no need 
to press the matter further, unless they find out the de- 
linquent. See here I ' He went to a writing-cabinet at the 
end of the room, flung the lid back, swept out a herd of 
papers, and wrenching a blank cheque from its book, threw it 
down before Baroni. • Here 1 fill it up as you like, and I 
will sign it, in exchange for the forged sheet.' 



FOR A WOMAN'S SAKE 153 

Baroni paused a moment. Money he loved with an adora- j 
fcion that excluded every other passion ; that blank cheque, I 
that limitJess carte blanche, that vast exchequer from which 
to draw I — it was a sore temptation. He thought wistfully 
of the Welsh er's peremptory forbiddance of all compromise — 
of the Welsher's inexorable command to ' wring the fine- 
feathered bird,* lose whatever might be lost by it. 

Cecil, ere the Hebrew could speak, leant forward, took the 
cheque and tore it in two. 

* God bless you, Rock,' he said, so low that it only reached 
the Seraph's ear, ' but you must not do that.' 

* Beauty, are you mad ? ' cried the Marquis, passionately. 
* If this villainous thing be a forgery, you are its victim as 
much as I — tenfold more than I. If this Jew choose to sell 
the paper to me, naming his own compensation, whose affair 
is it except his and mine ? They have been losers ; we in- 
demnify them. It rests with us to find out the criminal. 
M. Baroni, there are a hundred more cheques in that book ; 
name your price, and you shall have it ; or, if you prefer my 
father's, I will send to him for it. His Grace will sign one 
without a question of its errand, if I ask him. Come ! your 
price ? ' 

Baroni had recovered the momentary temptation, and was 
strong in the austerity of virtue, in the unassailability of social 
duty. 

* You behave most nobly, most generously by your friend, 
my lord,' he said politely. ' I am glad such friendship 
exists on eaith. But you really ask me what is not in my 
power. In the first place, I am but one of the firm, and 
have no authority to act alone ; in the second, I most cer- 
tainly, were I alone, should decline totally any pecuniary 
compromise. A great criminal action is not to be hushed up 
by any monetary arrangement. You, my Lord Marquis, may 
be ignorant in the Guards of a very coarse term used in law, 
called " compounding with felony." That is to what you 
tempt me now.' 

The Seraph, with one of those oaths that made the 
Hebrew's blood run cold, though he was no coward, opened 
his Ups to speak ; Cecil arrested him with that singular 
impassiveness, that apathy of resignation which had charac- 
terised his whole conduct throughout, save at a few brief 
moments. 



£54 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

* Make no opposition. The man is acting but in his own 
justification. I will wait for mine. To resist would be to 
degrade us with a bully's brawl ; they have the law with 
them. Let it take its course.' 

The Seraph dashed his hand across his eyes ; he felt blind 
— the room seemed to reel with him. 

' Oh, God ! that you ' 

He could not finish the words. That his comrade, his 
friend, one of his own corps, of his own world, should be 
arrested like the blackest thief in Whitechapel, or in the 
Rue du Temple ! 

Cecil glanced at him, and his eyes grew infinitely yearn- 
ing — infinitely gentle ; a shudder shook him all through his 
limbs. He hesitated a moment, then he stretched out his 
hand. 
- ' Will you take it— still ? ' 

Almost before the words were spoken, his hand was held in 
both of the Seraph's. 

* Take it ? Before all the world— always ; come what 
will.* 

His eyes were dim as he spoke, and his rich voice rang 
clear as the ring of silver, though there was the tremor of 
emotion in it. He had forgotten the Hebrew's presence ; 

: he had forgotten all save his friend and his friend's extremity. 

i Cecil did not answer ; if he had done so, all the courage, all 
the calm, all the control that pride and breeding alike sus- 
tained in him, would have been shattered down to weakness ; 
his hand closed fast in his companion's, his eyes met his once 

i in a look of gratitude that pierced the heart of the other like 
a knife ; then he turned to the Jew with a haughty serenity. 

* M. Baroni, I am ready.' 

' Wait ! ' cried Rockingham. * Where you go I come.' 

TJie Hebrew interposed demurely. 

' Forgive me, my lord — not now. You can take what 
steps you will as regards your friend later on ; and you may 
rest assured he will be treated with all delicacy compatible 
with the case, but you cannot accompany him now. I rely on 
Jiis word to go with me quietly ; but I now regard him — and 
you must remember this — as not the son of Viscount Royallieu ; 
not the Honourable Bertie Cecil, of the Life Guards ; not the 
friend of one so distinguished as yourself ; but as simply an 
arrested forger.' 



FOR A WOMAN'S SAKE 155 

Baroni coulu not deny himself that last sting of his ven- 
geance, yet, as he saw the faces of the men on whom he flung 
the insult, he felt for the moment that he might pay for his 
temerity with his life. He put his hand above his eyes 
with a quick involuntary movement, like a man who wards 
ofl* a blow. 

' Gentlemen,' and his teeth chattered as he spoke, ' one 
sign of violence, and I shall summon legal force.' 

Cecil caught the Seraph's lifted arm and stayed it in its 
vengeance. His own teeth were clinched tight as a vice, and 
over the haggard whiteness of his face a deep red flush had 
come. 

' We degrade ourselves by resistance. Let me go — they 
must do what they will. My reckoning must wait, and my 
justification. One word only : take the King, and keep him 
for my sake.' 

Another moment and the door had closed : he was gone out 
to his fate, and the Seraph, with no eyes on him, bowed 
down his head upon his arms, where he leaned against the 
marble table, and, for the first time in all his hfe, felt the 
hot tears roll down his face like rain, as the passion of a 
woman mastered and unmanned him ;— he would sooner a 
thousand times have laid his friend down in his grave than 
have seen him live for this. 

Cecil went slowly out beside his accuser. The keen, bright 
eyes of the Jew kept vigilant watch and ward on him ; a 
single sign of any effort to evade him would have been 
arrested by him in an instant with preconcerted skill. He 
looked, and saw that no thought of escape was in his 
prisoner's mind. Cecil had surrendered himself, and he went 
to his doom ; he laid no blame on Baroni, and he scarce gave 
him a remembrance. The Hebrew did not stand to him in 
the colours he wore to Rockingham, who beheld this thin*^: but 
on its surface : Baroni was to him only the agent of an in- 
evitable shame, of a helpless fate that closed him in, netting 
him tight with the w^eb of his own past actions ; no more 
than the irresponsible executioner of what was in the Jew's 
sight and in knowledge a just sentence. He condemned his 
accuser in nothing ; no more than the conscience of a guilty 
man can condemn the discoverers and the instruments of his 
ehastisement. 

Was he guilty 9 



156 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

Any judge might have said that he knew himself to be so 
as he passed down the staircase and outward to the entrance 
with that dead resignation on his face, that brooding, rigid 

Ilook set on his features, and gazing almost in stupefaction 
out from the dark hazel depths of eyes that women had loved 
for their lustre, their languor, and the softness of their smile. 
They walked out into the evening air unnoticed : he had 
given his consent to follow the bil] -discounter without re- 
sistance, and he had no thought to break his word ; he had 
submitted himself to the inevitable course of this fate that 
had fallen on him, and the whole tone of his temper and his 
breeding lent him the quiescence, though he had none of the 
doctrine of a supreme fatalist. There were carriages standing 
before the hotel, waiting for those who were going to the 
ball-room, to the theatre, to an archduke's dinner, to a 
princess's entertainment ; he looked at them with a vague, 
strange sense of unreality — the^e ^things of the life from 
'f which he was now barred out forever.' The sparkling tide 
^ ^ i of existence in Baden was flowmg on its way, and he went 
^ --^ \ out an accused felon, branded, and outlawed, and dishonoured 
1 from all place in the world that he had led, and been caressed 
C I by, and beguiled with for so long. 

, U Jr To-night, at this hour, he should have been among all 

(S^ tt that was highest and gayest and fairest in Europe at the 

5" V banquet of a prince — and he went by his captor's side a 

y convicted criminal. 

^ Once out in the air, the Hebrew laid his hand on his arm : 

he started — it was the first sign that his liberty was gone ! 

He restrained himself from all resistance still, and passed 

onward, down where Baroni motioned him out of the noise 

of the carriages, out of the glare of the light, into the narrow, 

darkened turning of a side street. He went passively ; for 

this man trusted to his honour. 

/ In the gloom stood three figures, looming indistinctly in 

the shadow of the houses ; one was a Huissier of the Staats- 

Procurator, beside whom stood the Commissary of Police of 

the district ; the third was an ^nglijh detective. Ere he saw 

them, their hands were on his shoulders, and the cold chill 

of steel touched his wrists. The Hebrew had betrayed him, 

and arrested him in the open street. In an instant, as the 

ring of the rifle rouses the slumbering tiger, all the life and 

the soul that were in him rose in revolt as the icy glide of 



FOR A WOMAN'S SAKE 157 

the handcuffs sought their hold on his arms. In an instant 
all the wild blood of his race, all the pride of his breeding, 
all the honour of his service, flashed into fire and leapt into 
action. Trusted, he would have been true to his accuser ; 
deceived, the chains of his promise were loosened, and all he 
thought, all he felt, all he knew were the lion impulses, the 
knightly instincts, the resolute choice to lose life rather than 
to lose freedom, of a soldier and a gentleman. All he remem- 
bered was that he would fight to the death rather than be 
taken alive ; that they should kill him where he stood, in the 
starlight, rather than lead him in the sight of men as a felon. 

With the strength that lay beneath all the gentle languor 
of his habits and with the science of the Eton Playing Fields 
of his boyhood, he wrenched his wrists free ere the steel had 
closed, and with the single straightening of his left armielled-^;>,a^ 
the_detectiye to earth like a bullock, with a crashing blow ,-^^^ 
that sounded 'through' the stillness like some heavy timber - 
stove in. Flinging himself like lightning on the Huissier, h^-^*^^ 
twisted out of his grasp the metal weight of the handcuffs, l^^^^ 
and wrestling with him was woven for a second in that close- ^^ 
knit struggle which is only seen when the wrestlers wrestle 
for life and death. The German was a powerful and firmly 
built man, but Cecil's science was the finer and the more 
masterly. His long, slender, delicate limbs seemed to twine 
and writhe around the massive form of his antagonist like 
the coils of a cobra ; they rocked and swayed to and fro on 
the stones, while the shrill, shrieking voice of Baroni filled 
the night with its clamour. The vice -like pressure of the 
stalwart arms of his opponent crushed him in till his ribs 
seemed to bend and break under the breathless oppression, 
the iron force ; but desperation nerved him, the Royallieu 
blood, that never took defeat, was roused now, for the first 
time in his careless life ; his skill and his nerve were un- 
rivalled, and with a last effort he dashed the Huissier off 
him, and lifting him up — he never knew how — as he would 
have lifted a log of wood, hurled him down in the white 
streak of moonlight that alone slanted through the peaked 
roofs of the crooked by- street. 

The cries of Baroni had already been heard ; a crowd 
drawn by their shrieking appeals were bearing to^ j-rds the 
place in tumult. The Jew had the quick wit to give them, 
as call-word, that it was a croupier who had been found 



iS8 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

cheating aud fled ; it sufficed to inflame the whole mob 
against the fugitive. Cecil looked round him once — such a 
glance as a Royal gives when the gazehouuds are panting 
about him, and the fangs are in his throat : then with the 
swiftness of the deer itself he dashed downwards into the 
gloom of the winding passage at the speed which had carried 
him, in many a foot-race, victor in the old green Eton 
meadows. There was scarce a man in the Queen's Service 
who could rival him for lightness of limb, for power of 
endurance in every sport of field and fell, of the moor and 
the gymnasium ; and the athletic pleasures of many a happy 
hour stood him in good stead now, in the emergence of his 
terrible extremity. 

Fh'ght I — for the instant the word thrilled through him 
with a loathing sense. Flight I — the craven's refuge, the 
criminal's resource. He wished in the moment's agony that 
they would send a bullet through his brain as he ran, rather 
than drive him out to this. Flight ! — he felt a coward and 
a felon as he fled ; fled from every fairer thing, from every 
peaceful hour, from the friendship and goodwill of men, from 
the fame of his ancient race, from the smile of the women 
that loved him, from all that makes life rich and fair, from 
all that men call honour ; fled, to leave his name disgraced in 
the service he adored ; fled, to leave the world to think him a 
guilty dastard who dared not face his trial ; fled, to bid his 
closest friend believe him low sunk in the depths of foulest 
felony, branded for ever with a criminal's shame — by his 
own act, by his own hand. Flight I — it has bitter pangs 
that make brave men feel cowards when they fly from 
tyranny, and danger, and death, to a land of peace and 
promise ! But in his flight he left behind bim all that made 
life worth living, and went out to meet eternal misery, 
renouncing every hope, yielding up all his future. 

' It is for her sake — and his,' he thought ; and without 
a moment's pause, without a backward look, he ran, as the 
stag runs with the bay of the pack behind it, down into the 
shadows of the night. 

The hue and cry was after him ; the tumult of a crowd's 

excitement, raised it knows not why or wherefore, was on 

ibis steps, joined with the steadier and keener pursuit of 

\men organised for the hunter's work, and trained to follow 

'the faintest track, the slightest clue. The moon was out. 



FOR A WOMAN'S SAKE 159 

and they saw liim clearly, though the marvellous fleetness 
of his stride had borne him far ahead in the few moments' ^ ^ 
start he had gained. He heard the beat of their many feet ^ 
on the stones, the dull thud of their rurming, the loud clamour "^ic 
of the mob, the shrill cries of the Hebrew offering gold with '\t. 
frantic lavishness to whoever should stop his prey. All the ^ 
breathless excitation, all the keen and desperate straining, all 
the tension of the neck-and-neck struggle that he had known , 
so often over the brown autumn country of the Shires at ^ 
home, he knew now, intensified to horror, made deadly with 
despair, changed into a race for life and death. 

Yet with it the wild blood in him woke ; the recklessness 
of peril, the daring and defiant courage that lay beneath his 
levity and languor heated his veins and spurred his strength ; 
he was ready to die if they chose to slaughter him ; but for 
his fi'eedom he strove as men will strive for life ; to distance 
them, to escape them, he would have breathed his last at the 
goal ; they might fire him down if they would, but he swore 
in his teeth to die free. 

Some Germans in his path hearing the shouts that thun- 
dered after him in the night drew their mule-cart across the 
pent-up passage-way down which he turned, and blocked 
the narrow road. He saw it in time ; a second later, and it 
would have been instant death to him at the pace he went ; 
he saw it, and gathered all the force and nervous impetus in 
his frame to the trial as he came rushing downward along 
the slope of the lane, with his elbows back, and his body 
straight, as prize-runners run. The waggon, sideways, 
stretched across — a solid barrier, heaped up with fir boughs 
brought for firing from the forests ; the mules stood abreast 
yoked together. The mob following saw, too, and gave a 
hoot and yell of brutal triumph ; their prey was in their 
clutches : the cart barred his progress, and he must double 
like a fox faced with a stone wall. 

Scarcely ! They did not know the man with whom they 
had to deal — the daring and the coolness that the languid 
surface of indolent fashion had covered. Even in the im- 
minence of supreme peril, of breathless jeopardy, he measured 
with unerring eye the distance and the need ; rose as lightly f 
in_ thebaic as Forest King had risen with him over lence and 1 
hedge, and with a single running leap cleared the width of \ 
the mules' backs, and, landing safely on the farther side, ' 



i6o UNDER TWO FLAGS 

dashed on, scarcely pausing for breath. The yell that hissed 
in his wake, as the throng saw him escape, by what to their 
slow Teutonic^ instincts seemed a devil's miracle, was on his 
ear lil^e the bay of the slothoimds to the deer. They might 
kill him if they could, but they should never take him 
captive. 

And the moon was so brightly, so pitilessly clear, shining 
down in the summer light, as though in love with the beauty 
of earth ! He looked up once ; the stars seemed reeling round 
him in disordered riot ; the chill face of the moon looked un- 
pitying as death. All this loveliness was round him ; this 
glory of sailing cloud and shadowy forest and tranquil planet, 
and there was no help for him. 

A gay burst of music broke on the stillness from the dis- 
tance ; he had left the brilliance of the town behind him, and 
was now in its by-streets and outskirts. The sound seemed 
to thrill him to the bone ; it was Hke the echo of the lost life 
he was leaving for ever. 

He saw, he felt, he heard, he thought ; feeling and sense 
were quickened in him as they had never been before, yet he 
never slackened his pace save once or twice, when he paused 
for breath ; he ran as swiftly, he ran as keenly, as ever stag 
or fox had run before him, doubling with their skill, taking 
the shadow as they took the covert, noting with their rapid 
eye the safest track, outracing with their rapid speed the 
pursuit that thundered in his wake. 

The by-lanes he took were deserted, and he was now well- 
nigh out of the town, with the open country and forest lying 
before him. The people whom he met rushed out of his 
path ; happily for him they were few, and were terrified, be- 
cause they thought him a madman broken loose from his 
keepers. He never looked back ; but he could tell that the 
pursuit was falling farther and farther behind him ; that the 
speed at which he went was breaking the powers of his 
hunters : fresh throngs added indeed to the first pursuers as 
they tore down through the starlit night, but none had the 
[science with which he went, the trained, matchless skill of 
Uhe university footrace. He left them more and more behind 
him each second of the breathless chase, that, endless as it 
seem ed, had lasted barely three minutes. If the night were but 
dark I He felt that pitiless luminance glistening bright about 
him, everywhere, shining over all the summer world, and 



FOR A WOMAN'S SAKE i6i 

leaving scarce a shadow to fail athwart his way. The silver 
glory of the radiance was shed on every rood of ground ; one 
hour of a winter night, one hour of the sweeping ink-black 
rain of an autumn storm, and he could have made for shelter 
as the stag makes for it across the broad brown Highland 
water. 

Before him stretched, indeed, the gloom of the masses of 
pine, the upward slopes of tree -stocked hills, the vastness of 
the Black Forest ; but they were like the mirage to a man 
who dies in a desert ; he knew at the pace he went he could 
not live to reach them. The blood was beating in his brain, 
and pumping from his heart ; a tightness hke an iron band 
seemed girt about his loins, his lips began to draw his breath 
in with loud gasping spasms ; he knew that in a little space 
his speed must slacken — he knew it by the roar like the noise 
of waters that was rushing on his ear, and the oppression, like 
a hand's hard grip that seemed above his heart. 

But he would go till he died ; go till they fired on him ; go 
though the skies felt swirhng round like a sea of fire, and the 
hard hot earth beneath his feet jarred his whole frame as his 
feet struck it flying. 

The angle of an old wood house, with towering roof and 
high-peaked gables, threw a depth of shadow at last across 
his road — a shadow black and ray less, darker for the white 
glisten of the moon around. Built more in the Swiss than 
the German style, a massive balcony of wood ran round it, 
upon and beneath which in its heavy shade was an impene- 
trable gloom, while the twisted wooden pillars ran upward to 
the gallery, loggia-like. With rapid perception and intuition 
he divined rather than saw these things, and swinging himself 
up with noiseless lightness, he threw himself full length down 
on the rough flooring of the balcony. If they passed he was 
safe for a brief time more at least ; if they found him — hia 
teeth ^clinched hke a mastiff's where he lay — he had the 
strengthlh him' stiirto^ sell hfs life learly. 

The pursuers came closer and closer, and by the clamours 
that floated up in indistinct and broken fragments, he knew 
that they had tracked him. He heard the tramp of tbeir feet 
as they came under the loggia ; he heard the click of the 
pistols — they were close upon him at last in the blackness of 
night. 

M 



102 UNDER TWO FLAGS 



^ 



CHAPTER XII 

THE KING'S LAST SERVIOB 

* Is he up there ? ' asked a voice in the darkness. 

* Not likely. A cat couldn't scramble up that woodwork,' 
answered a second. 

' Send a shot, and try,' suggested a third. 

There he lay, stretched motionless on the flat roof of the 

verandah. He heard thev/ords as the thronging mob surged, 

and trampled, and swore, and quarrelled beneath him, in th« 

blackness of the gloom, balked of their prey, and savage for 

w ft -some amends. There was a moment's pause, a hurried, eager 

«^' eonsultation ; then he heard the well-known sound of a charre 

"Ht. being rammed down, and the sharp drawing out of a ramrod ; 

there was a flash, a report, a line of light flamed a second i» 

; his sight, a ball hissed past him with a loud, singing rush. 

^ and bedded itself in the timber a few inches above his un- 

' covered hair. A dead silence followed ; then the muttering 

^©f many voices broke out afresh. 

' He's not there, at any rate,' said one, who seemed the 
«hief ; ' he couldn't have kept as still as that with a shot so 
Bear him. He's made for the open country and the forest, 
I'll take my oath.' 

Then the treading of many feet trampled their way out from 
beneath the loggia ; their voices and their rapid steps grew 
fainter and fainter as they hurried away through the night. 
For awhile, at least, he was safe. 

For some moments he lay prostrated there ; the rushing of 
the blood on his brain, the beating of his heart, the panting of 
his breath, the quivering of his limbs after the intense mus- 
eular effort he had gone through, mastered him, and flung 
feim down there beaten and powerless. He felt the foam om 
his lips, and he thought with every instant that the surcharged 
veins would burst; hands of steel seemed to crush in upon his 
chest, knotted cords to tighten in excruciating pain about hie 
loins ; he breathed in short convulsive gasps ; his eyes were 
blind, and his head swam. A dreaming fancy that this was 
death vaguely came on him, and he was glad it should be so. 



IHE KING'S LAST SERVICE 163 

His eyelids closed unconsciously, weighed down as by the 
weight of lead ; he saw the starry skies above him no more, 
and the distant noise of the pursuit waxed duller and duller 
on his ear ; then he lost all sense and memory — he ceased even 
to feel the night air on his face. How long he lay there he 
never knew ; when consciousness returned to him all was 
still ; the moon was shining down clear as the day ; the west 
wind was blowing softly among his hair. He staggered to 
his feet and leaned against the timber of the upper wall ; the 
shelving, impenetrable darkness sloped below ; above were the 
glories of a summer sky at midnight, around him the hills and 
woods were bathed in the silver light ; he looked, and he re- 
membered all. 

He had escaped his captors ; but for how long ? While yet 
there were some hours of the night left, he must find some 
surer refuge, or fall into their hands again. Yet it was strange 
that in this moment his own misery and his own peril were 
less upon him than a longing to see once more — and for th&^ 
last time — the woman for whose sake he suffered this. Their 1 
j love had had the lightness and the languor of their world, 

and had had but httle depth in it ; yet in that hour of his / 
1 supreme sacrifice to her, he loved her as he had not loved in . > 
\ his life. '^ 

^■^' Recklessness had always been latent in him, with all hig[<(^^ 
serenity and impassiveness ; a reckless resolve entered him^j J 
now — reckless to madness. Lightly and cautiously, though' - 
his sinews still ached, and his nerves still throbbed with theV*'' 
past strain, he let himself fall, hand over hand, as men go;r^ 
down a rope, along the woodwork to the ground, Once^^,^ 
touching earth, off he glided, swiftly and noiselessly, keeping- ^) 
in the shadow of the walls all the length of the streets he['^'^'" 
took, and shunning every place where any sort of tumult'^"^^ 
could suggest the neighbourhood of those who were out and'^^jj 
hunting him down. As it chanced, they had taken to the ^ 
open country ; he passed on unquestioned, and wound his way ^^ti 
to the Kursaal. He remembered that to-night there was & ^.:^^' 
masked ball, at which all the princely and titled world of f ' 
Baden were present ; to which he would himself have gone? 
after the Russian dinner. By the look of the stars he saw 
that it must be midnight, or past ; the ball would be now at its 
height. 

The daredevil wildness and the cool quietude that were 

u2 



i64 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

BO intimately and intricately mingled in his nature could 
alone have prompted and projected such a thought and such 
an action as suggested themselves to him now ; in the moment 
of his direst extremity, of his utter hopelesF^ness, of his most 
imminent peril, he went — to take a last look at his mistress ! 
Baden, for aught he knew, might be but one vast network 

/to mesh in and to capture him ; yet he ran the risk with the 

I dauntless temerity that had ever lain underneath the in- 

! differentism and the indolence of his habits. 

*— Keeping always in the shadow, and moving slowly, so as 
to attract no notice from those he passed, he made his way 
deliberately, straight towards the blaze of light where all the 
gaiety of the town was centred ; he reckoned, and rightly 
as it proved, that the rumour of his story, the noise of his 
pursuit, would not have penetrated here as yet ; his own 
world would be still in ignorance. A moment, that was all 

(he wanted, just to look upon a woman's beauty; he went 

^forward daringly and tranquilly to its venture. If any had 
told him that a vein of romance was in him, he would have 
stared and thought them madmen ; yet something almost as 
wild was in his instinct now. He had lost so much to keep 
her honour from attainder ; he wished to meet the gaze of 
her fair eyes once more before he went out to his exile. 

In one of the string of waiting carriages he saw a loose 
domino lying on the seat ; he knew the liveries and the foot- 
men, and he signed them to open the door. ' Tell Count Carl 
I have borrowed these,' he said to the servant, as he sprang 
into the vehicle, sHpped the scarlet and black domino on, 
took the mask, and left the carriage. The man touched his 
,I\.O^^h'at and said nothing ; he knew Cecil well as an intimate 
riend of his young Austrian master. In that masquerade 

^ guise he was safe, for the few minutes, at least, which were 
all he daredtake. 

He went on, mingling among the glittering throng, and 
pierced his way to the ball-room, the Venetian mask covering 
his features. Many spoke to him ; by the scarlet and black 
colours they took him for the Austrian. He answered none, 
and threaded his way among the blaze of hues, the joyous 
echoes of the music, the flutter of the silk and satin dominoes, 
the mischievous challenge of whispers. His eyes sought 
only one ; he soon saw her, in the white and silver mask- 
dress, with the spray of carmine-hued eastern flowers, by 



THE KING'S LAST SERVICE 165 

which he had been told days ago to recognise her. A crowd 
of dominoes were about her, some masked, some not. Hei 
eyes glanced through the envious disguise, and her lips were 
laughing. He approached her with all his old tact in the 
art d^arborer le cotillo7i ; not hurriedly, so as to attract notice, 
but carefully, so as to glide into a place near her. 

'You promised me this waltz,' he said very gently in her 
ear. * I have come in time for it.' 

She recognised him by his voice, and turned from a French 
prince to rebuke him for his truancy, with gay raillery and 
mock anger. 

* Forgive me, and let me have this one waltz — please 
do I ' She glanced at him a moment, and let him lead her 
out. 

* No one has my step as you have it, Bertie,' she mur- 
mured, as they glided into the measure of the dance. 

She thought his glance fell sadly on her as he smiled. 

' No ? — but others will soon learn it.' 

Yet he had never threaded more deftly the maze of the 
waltzers, never trodden more softly, more swiftly, or with 
more science, the polished floor. The waltz was perfect ; she 
did not know it was also a farewell. The delicate perfume 
of her floating dress, the gleam of the scarlet flower-spray, 
the flash of the diamonds studding her domino, the fragrance 
of her lips as they breathed so near his own — they haunted 
him many a long year afterwards. ~ 

""TOs~voice was very calm, his smile was very gentle, his 
step, as he swung easily through the intricacies of the circle, 
was none the less smooth and sure for the race that had so 
late strained his sinews to bursting ; the woman he loved saw 
no change in him ; but as the waltz drew to its end, she felt 
his heart beat louder and quicker on her own, she felt his 
hand hold her own more closely, she felt his head drooped over 
her till his lips almost touched her brow ; — it was his last 
embrace ; no other could be given here, in the multitude of 
these courtly crowds. Then, with a few low-murmured 
words that thrilled her in their utterance, and echoed in her 
memory for years to come, he resigned her to the Austrian 
Grand TDi] ke7 wBo was her next claimant, and left her silently 
— for ever. 

Less heroism has often proclaimed itself, with blatant 
trumpet to the world — a martyrdom. 



i66 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

He looked back once as he passed from the ball-room — 
back to the sea of colours, to the glitter of light, to the moving 
hues, amid which the sound of the laughing intoxicating 
music seemed to float ; to the glisten of the jewels, and the 
gold, and the silver, .to the scene, in a word, of the life that 
\vould be his no more. lETe looked back in a long lingering 
look, such as a man may give the gladness of the earth before 
the gates of a prison close on him ; then he went out once 
more into the night, threw the domino and the mask back 
again into the carriage, and took his way, alone. 

He passed along till he had gained the shadow of a by- 
street, by a sheer unconscious instinct ; then he paused, and 
looked round him — what could he do ? He wondered vaguely 
if he were not dreaming ; the air seemed to reel about iiim, 
and the earth to rock ; the very force of control he had 
sustained made the reaction stronger ; he began to feel blind 
and stupefied. How could he escape ? The railway statioa 
would be guarded by those on the watch for him ; he had 
but a few pounds in his pocket, hastily slipped in as he had 
won them, 'money-down,' at icarU that day; all avenues 
of escape were closed to him, and he knew that his limbs 
would refuse to carry him with any kind of speed farther. He 
had only the short precious hours remaining of the night m 
which to make good his flight — and flight he must take to 
save those for whom he had elected to sacrifice his life. Yet 
how ? and where ? 

A hurried, noiseless footfall came after him. Rake's voice 
came breathless on his ear, while the man's hand went up in 
the unforgotten soldier's salute — 

' Sir ! no words. Follow me, and I'll save you.' 

The one well-known voice was to him like water in a desert 
land ; he would have trusted the speaker's fidelity with his 
lite, fie asked nothing, said nothing, but followed rapidly 
and in silence, turning and doubling down a score of crooked 
passages, and burrowing at the last like a mole in a still 
deserted place on the outsldrts of the town, where some 
close-set trees grew at the back of stables and outbuild- 
ings. 

In a streak of the white moonlight stood two hunters 
saddled ; one was Forest King. With a cry, Cecil threw his 
arms round the animal's neck ; he had no thought then except 
tft&t he and the horse must part. 



THE KING'S LAST SERVICE 167 

* Into saddle, sir ! quick as your life ! ' whispered Rake. 

* We'll be far away from this d d den by morning.' 

Cecil looked at him like a man in stupor — his arm still OY&t 
Uie grey's neck. 

' He can have no stay in him ? He was deadbeat on the 
course.' 

' I know he was, sir ; but he ain't now ; he was pisined ; 
but I've a trick with a 'oss that'll set chat sort o' tbiug — if 
it ain't gone too far, that is to say — right in a brace of shakes. 
I doctored him ; he's hisself agen ; he'll take you till he 
dbt^ijis.' 

The King thrust his noble head closer in his master's 
bosom, and made a little murmuring noise, as though he said, 

* Try me ! ' 

' God bless you, Rake ! ' Cecil said, huskily. ' But 1 
cannot take him ; he will starve with me. And — how did 
you know of this ? ' 

' Beggin' your pardon, your honour, he'll eat chopped furze 
with you befcter than he'll eat oats and hay along of a new 
master, returned Rake, rapidly, tightening the girths. ' I 
don't know nothin', sir, save that I heard you was in a 
strait ; I don't want to know nothin' ; but I sees them cursed 
eads a runnin' of you to earth, and thinks I to myself, 
** Come what will, the King will be the ticket for him." So 
I ran to your room unbeknown, packed a little valise, and 
got out the passports, then back again to the stables, and 
saddled him Hke iightnin', and got 'em off, nobody knowing 
but Bill there. I seed you go by into the Kursaal, and laid 
in wait for you, sir. I made bold to bring Mother o' Pearl 
for myself.' 

And Rake stopped, breathless and hoarse with passion 
and grief that he would not utter. He had heard more than 
ke said. 

' For yourself ? ' echoed Cecil. * What do you mean ? My 
good fellow, I am ruined. I shall be beggared from to-night 
— utterly. I cannot even help you, or keep you, but Lord 
Rockingham will do both for my sake.' 

The ci-devant soldier struck his heel into the earth with a 
fiery oath. -^ 

* Sir, there ain't time for no words. Where you goes I ] 
go. I'll follow you while there's a drop o' blood in me. y 
You was good to me when I was a poor devil that every on« I 



iUv, 



^^^ty^ 



168 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

scouted ; you shall have me with you to the last, if I die iot 
it. There ! ' 
\ Cecil's voice shook as he answered. The fidelity touched 
|iim as adversity could not do. 

* Eake, you are a noble fellow. I would take you, were 
it possible ; but — in an hour I may be in a felon's prison. 
If I escape that, I shall lead a life of such wretchedness 
as * 

' That's not nothing to me, sir.' 

* But it is much to me,' answered Cecil. * As things have 
turned — life is over with me, Rake. What my own fate 
may be I have not the faintest notion — but let it be what 
it will, it must be a bitter one. I will not drag another 
into it.' 

* If you send me away, I'll shoot myself through the head, 
sir, that's all.' 

* You will do nothing of the kind. Go to Lord Rocking- 
ham, and ask him from me to take you into his service. You 
cannot have a kinder master.' 

* I don't say nothing agen the Marquis, sir,' said Rake, 
doggedly, ' he's a right-on generous gentleman, but he 
aren't you. Let me go with you, if it's just to rub the King 
down. Lord, sir ! you don't know what straits I've lived in 
— what a lot of things I can turn my hand to — what a one I 
am to fit myself into any rat-hole, and make it spicy. Why, 
sir, I'm that born-scamp I am — I'm a deal happier on the 
cross and getting my bread just anyhow, than I am when 
I'm in clover like you've kep' me.* 

j Rake's eyes looked up wistfully and eager as a dog's when 

he prays to be let out of kennel to follow the gun ; his voice 
'was husky and agitated with a strong excitement. Cecil 

stood a moment, irresolute, touched and pained at the man's 

spaniel-like afi'ection — yet not yielding to it. 

'I thank you from my heart. Rake,' he said at length, 

*but it must not be. I tell you my future life will be 

beggary ' 

* You'll want me anyways, sir,' retorted Rake, ashamed 
of the choking in his throat. ' I ask your pardon for inter- 
ruptin', but every second's that precious like. Besides, sir, 
I've got to cut and run for my own sake. I've laid Willon's 
head open down there in the loose-box ; and when he's come 
to himself a pretty hue and cry he'll raise after me. He 



THE KING'S LAST SERVICE 169 

painted the King, that's what he did ; and I told him so, and 
I gev' it to him — one — two — amazin' 1 Get into saddle, 
sir, for the Lord's sake ! and here. Bill — you run back, shut 
the door, and don't let nobody know the 'osses are out till 
the mornin'. Then look like a muff as you are, and say 
nothin' 1 ' 

The stable-boy stared, nodded assent, and sloped off. Rake 
threw himself across the brown mare. 

* Now, sir ! a steeplechase for our lives ! We'll be 
leagues away by the day-dawn, and I've got their feed in the 
saddlebags, so that tliey'U bait in the forests. Off, sir, 
for God's sake, or the blackguards will be down on you 
again ! ' 

As he spoke the clamour and tread of men of the town 
racing to the chase were wafted to them on the night wind, 
drawing nearer and nearer ; Rake drew the reina tight in hia 
hand in fury. 

'There they come — the d d beaks 1 For the love of 

mercy, sir, don't check now. Ten seconds more and they'll 
be on you ; off, off I — or by the Lord Ha,rry, sir, you'll 
make a murderer of me, and I'll kill the first man that lays 
his hand on you I ' 

The blaze of bitter blood was in the ex-Dragoon's fiery 
face as the moon shone on it, and he drew out one of his 
holster pistols, and swimg round in hia saddle facing the 
narrow entrance of the lane, ready to shoot down the first of 
the pursuit whose shadow should darken the broad stream of 
white light that fell through the archway. ^^^^i 

Cecil looked at him, and paused no more ; but vaulted -^ 
into the old familiar seat, and Forest King bore him away", 
through the starry night, with the brown mare racing her 
best by his side. Away — through the sleeping shadows, 
through the broad beaSlH'of the moon, through the odorous 
scent of the crowded pines, through the soft breaking grey of 
the dawn ; away — to mountain solitudes and forest silence, 
and the shelter of lonely untracked ravines, and the woodland 
lairs they must share with wolf and boar ; awaju-to flee with 
the flight of the hunted fox, to race with me wakeful dread 
of the deer ; away — to what fate, who could tell ? 

Far and fasir they' rode* through the night, never drawing 
rein. The horses laid well to their work ; their youth and 
their mettle were roused, and they needed no touch of spur, 



17© UNDER TWO FLAGS 

bnt neck and neck dashed down through the sullen grey ot 
the dawn and the breaking flush of the first sunrise. On the 
hard parched earth, on the dewladen moss, on the stretches 
of wayside sward, on the dry white dust of the ducal roads, 
their hoofs thundered, unfollowed, unechoed, the challenge of 
no pursuit stayed them, and they obeyed the call that was 
made on their strength with good and gallant willingness. 
Far and fast they rode, happily knowing the country well ; 
now through the darkness of night, now through the glim- 
Biering daybreak. Tall walls of fir-crowned rocks passed by 
them like a dream ; beetling clift's and summer foliage swept 
past their eyes all fused and dim ; grey piles of monastic 
buildings with the dull chimes tolling the hour flashed oa 
their sight, to be lost in a moment ; corn lands yellowing for 
the sickle, fields with the sheaves set-up, orchards ruddy with 
fT'uit, and black barn-roofs lost in leafy nests, villages lying 
among their hills like German toys caught in the hollow of 
a guarding hand, masses of forests stretching wide, sombre 
and silent and dark as a tomb ; the shine of water's silvery 
line where it flowed in a rocky channel — they passed them 
^11 in the soft grey of the waning night, in the white veil 
of the fragrant mists, in the stillness of sleep and of peace. 
Passed them, racing for more than life, flying with the speed 
of the wind. 

* I failed him to-day through my foes and his,' Forest 
King thought, as he laid his length out in his mighty 
stride. * But I love him well ; I will save him to-night.' 
And save him the brave brute did. The grass was so sweet 
and so short, he longed to stop for a mouthful ; the brooks 
looked so clear and so brown, he longed to pause for a drink ; 
renewed force and reviving youth filled his loyal veins with 
their fire ; he could have thrown himself down on that mossy 
turf, and had a roll in its thyme and its lichens for sheer 
joy that his strength had come back. But he would yield t» 
none of these longings ; he held on for his master's sake, and 
tried to think, as he ran, that this was only a piece of play — 
only a steeplechase, for a silver vase and a lady's smile, suck 
as he and his rider had so often run for, and so often won, im 
those glad hours of the crisp winter noons of English Shirei 
far away. He turned his eyes on the brown mare's and sh« 
turned hers on his ; they were good friends in the stables at 
home, and they understood one another now. * If 1 were 



THE KING'S LAST SERVICE 171 

▼hat I was yesterday, she wouldn't run even with w«/ 
thought the King ; but they were doing good work together, 
and he was too true a knight and too true a gentleman to be 
jealous of Mother o' Pearl, so they raced neck and neck 
through the dawn ; with the noisy clatter of watermiil 
wheels, or the distant sound of a woodman's axe, or the 
tolhng bell of a convent clock, the only sound on the air 
aave the beat of the flying hoofs. 

Away they went, mile on mile, league on league, tilF the 
stars faded out in the blaze of the sun, and the tall pines 
rose out of the gloom. Either his pursuers were baffled and 
distanced, or no hue and cry was yet after him ; nothing 
arrested them as they swept on, and the silent land lay in the 
stillness of morning ere toil and activity awakened. It was 
strangely still, strangely lonely, and the echo of the gallop 
seemed to beat on the stirless, breathless solitude. As the 
light broke and grew clearer and clearer, Cecil's face in it was 
white as death as he galloped through the mists, a hunted 
man, on whose head a price was set ; but it was quite calm 
still, and very resolute — there was no Jmrking back in it. 

They had raced nigh twenty English miles by the time the 
chimes of a village were striking six o'clock ; it was the only 
group of dwelhngs they had ventured near in their flight ; 
the leaded lattices were thrust open with a hasty clang, and 
women's heads looked out as the iron tramp of the hunters' 
feet struck fire from the stones. A few cries were raised ; 
one burgher called them to know their errand : they answered 
nothing, but traversed the street with lightning speed, gone 
from sight almost ere they were seen. A league farther on 
was a wooded bottom, all dark and silent, with a brook mur- 
muring through it under the leafy shade of lilies and the 
tangle of water-plants ; there CecU checked the King and 
threw himself out of saddle. 

' He is not quite himself yet,' he murmured, as he loosened 
ttie girths and held back the delicate head from the perilous 
€oid of the water to which the horse stretched so eagerly ; he 
thought more of Forest King than he thought, even in that 
hour, of himself. He did all that was needed with his own 
hands ; fed him with the com from the saddlebags, cooled 
him gently, led him to drink a cautious draught from the 
bubbling little stream, then let him graze and rest under the 
shade of the aromatic pines and the deep bronze leaves of the 



172 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

copper beeches ; it was almost dark, so heavy and thickly 
laced were the branches, and exquisitely tranquil in the heart 
of the hilly country, in the peace of the early day, with the 
rushing of the forest brook the sole sound that was heard, 
and the everlasting sighing of the pine-boughs overhead. 

Cecil leaned awhile silently against one of the great gnarled 
trunks, and Rake affected to busy himself with the mare ; in 
his heart was a tumult of rage, a volcano of curiosity, a pent- 
up storm of anxious amaze, but he would have let Mother o* 
Pearl brain him with a kick of her iron plates rather than 
press a single look that should seem like doubt, or seem like 
insult in adversity to his fallen master. 

Cecil's eyes, drooped and brooding, gazed a long half-hour 
down in silence into the brook bubbling at his feet ; then he 
lifted his head and spoke — with a certain formality and com- 
mand in his voice, as though he gave an order on parade. 

' Rake, listen and do precisely what I bid you, neither 
more nor less. The horses cannot accompany me, nor you 
either; I must go henceforth where they would starve, and 
you would do worse. I do not take the King into suffering, 
nor you into temptation.' 

Rake, who at the tone had fallen unconsciously into the 
attitude of * attention,' giving the salute with his old mili- 
tary instinct, opened his lips to speak in eager protestation. 
Cecil put up his hand. 

* I have decided ; nothing you can say will alter me. We 
are near a by-station now ; if I find none there to prevent 
me, I shall get away by the first train ; to hide in these woods 
is out of the question. You will return by easy stages to 
Baden, and take the horses at once to Lord Rockingham. 
They are his now. Tell him my last wish was that he should 
take you into his service ; and he will be a better master to 

you than I have ever been. As for the King ' his lips 

quivered, and his voice shook a little despite himself, * he 
will be safe with him. I^hall go into some foreign service 
— Ajiskmnj Russiajcu3-t6xican, whichever be open to me. I 
would not risk such a horse as mine to be sold, ill treated, 
tossed from owner to owner, sent in his old age to a knacker's 
yard, or killed in a skirmish by a cannon-shot. Take both 
him and the mare back, and go back yourself. BeHeve me, I 
thank you from my heart for your noble oiier of fidelity, but 
accept it I never shall.* 



THE KING'S LAST SERVICE 173 

A dead pause came after his words ; Rake stood mute ; a 
curious look, half-dogged, half- wounded, but very resolute, 
had come on his face. Cecil thought him pained, and spoke 
with an infinite gentleness : 

* My good fellow, do not regret it, or fancy I have no 
gratitude to you. I feel your loyalty deeply, and I know all 
you would willingly suffer for me ; but it must not be. The ^ 
mere offer of what you would do has been quite testimony v 
enough of your truth and your worth. It is impossible for 
me to tell you what has so suddenly changed my fortunes : it 
is sufficient that for the future I shall be, if I live, what you -J 
were— a private soldier in an army that needs a sword. But ^^ 
let my fate be what it will, I go to it alojie. Spare me more o^ 
speech, and simply obey my last command.* ^ 

Quiet as the words were, there was a resolve in them nol^ 
to be disputed, an authority not to be rebelled against. Rake | 
stared, and looked at him blankly ; in this man who spoke to I 
him with so subdued but so irresistible a power of command, / 
he could scarcely recognise the gay, indolent, indulgent, / 
'pococurante Guardsman, whose most serious anxiety had I 
been the set of a lace tie, the fashion of his hunting- \ 
dress, or the choice of the gold arabesques for his smoking- 
slippers. 

Rake was silent a moment, then his hand touched his cap 
again. 

' Very well, sir,' and without opposition or entreaty he 
turned to resaddle the mare. 

Our natures are oddly inconsistent. Cecil would not have 
taken the man into exile, and danger, and temptation, and 
away from comfort and an honest life, for any consideration ; 
yet it gave him something of a pang that Rake was so soon 
dissuaded from following him, and so easily convinced of the 
folly of his fidehty. But he had dealt himself a far deadlier 
one when he had resolved to part for ever from the King. 
He loved the horse better than he loved anything — fed from 
his hand in foalhood, reared, broken, and trained under his 
own eye and his own care, he had had a truer welcome from 
those loving, lustrous eyes, than all his mistresses ever gave' 
him. He had had so many victories, so many hunting runs, • 
80 many pleasant days of winter and of autumn, with Forest 
lung for his comrade and companion ! He could better bear 
to sever from all other things than from the stable-monarch, 



174 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

whose brave heart never failed him, and whose honest lovt 
was always his. 

He stretched his hand out with his accustomed signal ; the 
King Ufted his head where he grazed, and came to him with 
the murmuring noise of pleasure he always gave at his master's 
caress, and pressed his forehead against Cecil's breast, and 
took such tender heed, such earnest soHcitude, not to harm 
him with a touch of the mighty fore-hoofs, as those only who 
care for and know horses well will understand in its 
relation. 

Cecil threw his arm over his neck, and leant his own head 
down on it, so that his face was hidden. He stood motion- 
less so many moments, and the King never stirred, but only 
pressed closer and closer against his bosom, as though he knew 
that this was his eternal farewell to his master. But little 
light came there, the boughs grew so thickly ; and it was still 
and solitary as a desert in the gloom of the meeting trees. 

There have been many idols, idols of gold, idols of clay, 
less pure, less true than the brave and loyal-hearted beast 
from whom he parted now. 

He stood motionless a while longer, and where his face was 
hidden the grey silken mane of the horse was wet with great 
slow tears that forced themselves through his closed eyes ; 
then he laid his lips on the King's forehead, as he might have 
touched the brow of the woman he loved ; and with a back- 
ward gesture of his hand to his servant, plunged down into 
the deep slope of netted boughs and scarce penetrable leafage, 
that swung back into their places, and shrouded him from 
sight with their thick unbroken screen. 

'He's forgot me right and away in the King,' murmured 
Rake, as he led Forest King away slowly and sorrowfully, while 
the hunter pulled and fretted to force his way to his master. 

* Well, it's only naturaJ hke. I've cause to care for him, 
and plenty on it ; but he ain't no sort of reason to think 
about me.' 

That was the way the philosopher took his wound. 

Alone, Cecil flung himself full length down on the turf 
beneath the beech-woods, his arms thrown forward, his faoe 
buried in the grass, all gay with late summer forest blossoms ; 
for the hrst time the whole might of the ruin that had fallen 
on him was understood by him ; for the first time it beat him 
dov>'n beneath it as the overstrained tension of nerve and of 



THE KING'S LAST SERVICE 175 

self-restraint had their inevitable reaction. He knew what 
this thing was which he had done — he had given up his whole 
future. 

Though he had spoken lightly to his servant of his inten- 
tion to enter a foreign army, he knew himself how few the 
chances were that he could ever do so. It was possible that 
Kockingham might so exert his influence that he would be 
left unpursued ; but unless this chanced so (and Baroni had 
seemed resolute to forego no part of his demands), the search 
for him would be in the hands of the law ; and the wiles of 
8ecret_pplice and of detectives* resources spread too far and 
finely over the world for him tq_ have scarcely a hope of 
altimate escape. 

if he sought France, the Extradition Treaty would deliver 
him up ; Russia — Austria — Prussia were of equal danger ; 
he would be identified, and given up to trial. Into the 
Italian service he knew many a scoundrel was received un- 
questioned ; and he might try the Western world ; though he 
had no means to pay the passage, he might work it ; he was 
a good sailor ; yachts had been twice sunk under him, by 
steamers, in the Solent and the Spezzia, and his own schooner 
had once been fired at by mistake for a blockade runner, when 
he had brought- to, and given them a broadside from his two 
shotted guns before he would signal them their error. 

As these things swept disordered and aimless through his 
mind, he wondered if a nightmare were upon him ; lie, the 
darling of Belgravia, the Guards' champion, the lover of Lady 
Guenevere, to be here outlawed and friendless, wearily racking 
his brains to solve whether he had seamanship enough to be 
taken before the mast, or could stand before the tambour- 
major of a French regiment, with a chance to serve the same 
flag. 

For a while he lay there like a drunken man, heavy and 
motionless, his brow resting on his arm, his face buried in the 
grass ; he had parted more easily with the woman he loved 
than he had parted with Forest King. The chimes of soma 
far-off monastery, or castle-campanile, swung lazily in the 
morning stillness ; the sound revived him, and recalled t« 
him how little time there was if he would seek the flight that 
had begun on impulse and was continued in a firm unshrink- 
ing resolve : he must go on, and on, and on ; h© must burrow 
like a fox, hide hke a beaien cur : he must put leagues 



176 ^ ..> '^ER TWO FLAGS :» w^^'*"'^'^ 

between him and all who had ever known him ; he must s ink^V ' 
his very name, and identity, and existence, under gome im- 
penelrahle oHcurity, or'the burden he had taken up for others' 
sake would be uselessly borne. There must be action of some 
sort or other, instant and unerring. 

* It don't matter,' he thought, with the old idle indiffer- 
l ence, oddly beco ming in that extreme moment the very height 
{of stoic ph'ilosophy, without any thought or effort to be such. 

* I was going to the bad of my own accord ; I must have cut 
and run for the debts, if not for this ; it would have been the 
same thing, anyway, so it's just as well to do it for them. 
Life's over, and I'm a fool that I don't shoot myself.' 

But there was too imperious a spirit in the Royallieu blood 
to let him give in to disaster and do this. He rose slowly, 
staggering a little, and feeling blinded and dazzled with the 
blaze of the morning sun as he went out of the beech-wood. 
There were the marks of the hoofs on the damp, dewy turf ; 
his lips trembled a little as he saw them — he would never 
ride the horse again ! 

Some two miles, more or less, lay between him and the 
railway. He was not certain of his way, and he felt a sicken- 
ing exhaustion on him ; he had been without food since his 
breakfast before the race. A gamekeeper's hut stood near 
the entrance of the wood ; he had much recklessness in him, 
and no caution. He entered through the half-open door, and 
asked the keeper, who was eating his sausage and drinking 
his Lager, for a meal. 

'I'll give you one if you'll bring me down that hen- 
harrier,' growled the man in South German, pointing to the 
bird that was sailing far off, a mere speck in the sunny 
sky. 

Cecil took the rifle held out to him, and without seemmg 
even to pause to take aim, fired. The bird dropped like a 
stone through the air into the distant woods. There was no 
tremor in his wrist, no uncertainty in his measure. The 
keeper stared ; the shot was one he had thought beyond any 
man's range, and he set food and drink before his guest with 
a crestfallen surprise, oddly mingled with veneration. 

* You might have let me buy my breakfast, without making 
me do murder,' said Bertie, quietly, as he tried to eat. The 
meal was coarse — he could scarcely touch it, but he drank the 
beer down thirstily, and took a crust of bread. He "sUnped 



THE KING'S LAST SERVICE 177 

his ring, a great sapphire graven with his crest, off his finger, 
and held it out to the man. 

* That is worth fifty double-Fredericks ; will you take it in 
exchange for your rifle and some powder and ball ? ' 

The German stared again, open-mouthed, and clinched the 
bargain eagerly. He did not know anything about gems, but 
the splendour of this dazzled his eye, while he had guns more 
than enough, and could get many others at his lord's cost. 
Cecil fastened a shot-belt round him, took a powder-flask and 
cartridge-case, and with a few words of thanks went on his 
way. 

Now that he held the rifle in his hand, he felt ready for the 
work that was before him ; if hunted to bay, at any rate he 
could now have a struggle for his liberty. The keeper stood 
bewildered, gazing blankly after him down the vista of pines. 

' Hein 1 hein I ' he growled, as he looked at the sapphire 
sparkling in his broad brown palm ; ' I never saw ■ such a 
with-lavishness-wasteful - and - with - courteous - speech - laconic 
gentleman ! I wish I had not let him have the gun ; he will 
take his own life, belike ; ach, Gott I he will take his own hfe ! ' 

But Cecil had not bought it for that end — though he had 
called himself a fool for not sending a bullet through his brain, 
to quench in eternal darkness this ruined and wretched life 
that alone remained to him. He walked on through the still 
summer dawn, with the width of the country stretching sun- 
steeped around him. The sleeplessness, the excitement, the 
misery, the wild running of the past night had left him 
strengthless and racked with pam, but he knew that he must 
press onward or be caught, sooner or later, like netted game 
in the poacher's silken mesh. Where to go, what to do, he 
knew no more than if he were a child ; everything had always 
been ready to his hand ; the only thought required of him had 
been how to amuse himself and avoid being bored ; now, 
thrown alone on a mighty calamity, and brought face to face 
with the severity and emergency of exertion, he was like a 
pleasure-boat beaten under high billows, and driven far out 
to sea by the madness of a raging nor- 'wester. He had no 
conception what to do ; he had but one resolve — to keep hia 
secret, if to do it he killed himself with the rifle his sapphire 
ring had bought. 

Carelessly daring always, he sauntered now into the station 
for which he had made, without a sign on him that could 



178 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

attract observation ; he wore still the violet velvet Spanish- 
like dress, the hessians, and the broad-leafed felt hat with an 
eagle's feather fastened in it, that he had worn at the races ; 
and with the gun in his hand there was nothing to distinguish 
him from any tourist ' milor,' except that in one hand he 
carried his own valise. He cast a rapid glance around ; no 
warrant for his apprehension, no announcement of his per- 
sonal appearance had preceded him here ; he was safe — safe 
in that ; safer still in the fact that the train rushed in so im- 
mediately on his arrival there, that the few people about had 
no time to notice or speculate upon him. The coupe was 
empty, by a happy chance ; he took it, throwing his money 
down with no heed that when the little he had left was once 
expended he would be penniless, and the train whirled on 
with him, plunging into the heart of forest and mountain, and 
the black gloom of tunnels, and the golden seas of corn- 
harvest. He was alone ; and he leant his head on his hands, 
and thought, and thought, and thought, till the rocking, and 
the rushing, and the whirl, and the noise of the steam on 
his ear and the giddy gyrations of his brain in the ex- 
haustion of overstrung exertion, conquered thought. With 
the beating of the engine seeming to throb like the great 
swinging of a pendulum through his mind, and the whirling 
of the country passing by him like a confused phantasmagoria, 
his eyes closed, his aching limbs stretched themselves out to 
rest, a heavy dreamless sleep fell on him, the sleep of intense 
bodily fatigue, and he knew no more. 

Gendarmes awoke him to see his visa. He showed it them 
by sheer mechanical instinct, and slept again in that dead 
weight of slumber the moment he was alone. When he had 
taken his ticket and they had asked him to where it should 
be, he had answered, to their amaze, * to the farthest place it 
goes,' and he was borne on now unwitting where it went ; 
through the rich champaign and the barren plains, through 
the reddening vintage, and over the dreary plateaux ; through 
antique cities, and across broad flowing rivers ; through the 
cave of riven rocks, and above nestling, leafy valleys ; on and 
on, on and on, while he knew nothing, as the opium-like sleep 
of intense weariness held him in its stupor. 

He awoke at last with a start ; it was evening ; the still 
twiliglit was settling over all the land, and the train was 
still rushing onward, fleet as the wind. His eyes, as they 



THE KING'S LAST SERVICE 179 

opened dreamily and blindly, fell on a face half obscured in 

the gloaming ; he leaned forward bewildered and doubting 

his senses. ^ 

' Rake I ' "*^ 

Rake gave the salute hurriedly and in embarrassment. / 

* It's I, sir ! — yes, sir.' / 
Cecil thought himself dreaming still. \ 

* You I You had my orders ? ' ^ 

* Yes, sir, I had your orders,' murmured the ex-soldier, 
more confused than he had ever been in the whole course of 
his audacious life, ' and they was the first I ever disobeyed 
—they was. You see, sir, they was just what I couldn't 
swallow nohow — that's the real right down fact I Send me 
to the devil, Mr. Cecil, for you, and I'll go at the first 
biddin', but leave you just when things are on the cross for 
you, damn ine if I will ! — beggin' your pardon, sir ! ' 

And Rake, growing fiery and eloquent, dashed his cap 
down on the floor of the coupe with an emphatic declaration 
of resistance. Cecil looked at him in silence ; he was not 
certain still whether this w-ere not a fantastic folly he was 
dreaming. 

'Damn me if I will, Mr. Cecil I You won't keep me — 
very well ; bufc you can't prevent me follerin' of you, and 
foUer you I will ; and so there's no more to be said about 
it, sir, but just to let me have my own lark, as one may say. 
You said you'd go to the station, I went there ; you took 
your ticket, I took my ticket. I've been travelling behind 
you till about two hours ago ; then I looked at you, you was 
asleep, sir. *' I don't think my master's quite well," says I 
to Guard ; *' I'd like to get in there along of him." •' Get in 
with you, then," says he (only we was jabbering that wil- 
lainous tongue 0' theirs), for he sees the name on my traps 
is the same as that on your traps — and in I get. Now,^ 
Mr. Cecil, let me say one word for all, and don't think I'm a/ 
insolent ne'er-do-well for having been and gone and disobeyedj 
you ; but you was good to me when I was sore in want of] 
it ; you was even good to my dog — rest his soul, the poor I 
beast ! there never were a braver ! — and stick to you I will, ) 
till you kick me away like a cur. The truth is, it's only* 
being near of you, sir, that keeps me straight ; if I was to' 
leave you I should become a bad 'un again, right and away; 
Don't send me from you, sir, as yon took mercy on me once.*\ 



i8o UNDER TWO FLAGS 

Rake's Toice shook a little toward the close of his harangue, 
and in the shadows of evening light, as the train plunged 
through the gathering gloom, his ruddy bright bronzed face 
looked veiy pale and wistful. 

Cecil stretched out his hand to him in silence that spoke 
better than words. 

Rake hung his head. 

' No, sir ; you're a gentleman, and I've been an awful 
scamp 1 It's enough honour for me that you luoulcl do it. 
When I'm more worth it, p'raps — but that won't never 
be.' 

* You are worth it now, my gallant fellow.' His voice 
was very low; the man's loyalty touched him keenly. 'It 
was only for yourself, Rake, that I ever wished you to leave 
me.' 

* God bless you, sir,' said Rake, passionately ; * them 
words are better nor ten tosses of brandy ! You see, sir, I'm 
so spry and happy in a wild life, I am ; and if so be as you 
go to them American parts as you spoke orf, why I know 'em 
ji;ist as well as I know Newmarket Heath, every bit ! They're 
terriHe rips in them parts, kill you as soon as look at you ; 
it makes things uncommon larky out there, uncommon spicy. 
You aren't never sure but what there's a bowie-knife a waiting 

Vior you.' 

With which view of the delights of Western life. Rake, 
* feeling like a fool,' as he thought to himself, for which 
reason he had diverged into Argentine memories, applied 
himself to the touching and examining of the rifle with that 
tenderness which only gunnery love and lore produce. 

Cecil eat silent awhile, his head drooped down on his 
hands, while the evening deepened to night. At last he 
looked up. 

' The King ? Where is he ? ' 

Rake blushed shamefacedly under his tanned skin. 

' Beggin' your pardon, sir, behind you.' 

' Behind me ! ' 

' Yes, sir ; him and the brown mare. I couldn't do not 
nothin' else with 'em, you see, sir, so I shipped him along 
with us ; they don't care for the train a bit, bless their hearts, 
and I've got a sharp boy a minding of 'em. You can easily 
send 'em on to England from Paris if you're determined to 
part with 'em, but you know the King always was fond of 



THE KING'S LAST SERVICE i8i 

drums and trumpets and that like. You remember, sir 
when he was a colt we broke him into it and taught him a 
bit of manceuvring, 'cause till you found what pace he had 
in him, you'd thought of making a charger of him. He loves 
the noise of soldiering — he do ; and if he thought you was 
goin' away without him, he'd break his heart, Mr. Cecil, sir. 
It was all I could do to keep him from follerin' of you this 
morning, he sawed my arms off a'most.' 

With which. Rake, conscious that he had been guilty of 
unpardonable disobedience and outrageous interference, hung 
his head over the gun, a little anxious and a good deal 
ashamed. 

Cecil smiled a little despite himself. 

' Rake, you will do for no service, I am afraid ; you are 
terribly insubordinate ! ' 

He had not the heart to say more ; the man's fidelity was 
too true to be returned with rebuke ; and stronger than all 
surprise and annoyance was a strange mingling of pain and 
pleasure in him to think that the horse he loved so well was 
still so near him, the comrade of his adversity, as he had been 
the companion of his happiest hours. 

* These things will keep him a few days,' he thought, 
as he looked at his hunting-watch, and the priceless pearl in 
each of his wristband-studs. He would have pawned every ' 
atom he had about him to have had the King with him a i 
week longer. 

The night fell, the stars came out, the storm-rack of a 
coming tempest drifted over the sky, the train rushed onward 
through the thickening darkness, through the spectral country 
— it was like his life, rushing headlong down into impene- 
trable gloom. The best, the uttermost that he could look 
for was a soldier's grave, far away under some foreign soil. 



A few evenings later the Countess Guenevere stood alone in 
her own boudoir in her Baden suite ; she was going to dine 
with an Archduchess of Russia, and the splendid jewels of 
her House glittered through the black shower of her laces, 
and crowned her beautiful glossy hair, her dehcate imperial 
head. In her hands was a letter — oddly written in pencil 
on a leaf torn out of a betting-book, but without a tremor or 
a change in the writing itself. And as she stood a shiver 



r82 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

Bhook her frame ; in the solitude of her lighted and luxurious 
chamber her cheek grew pale, her eyes grew dim. 

* To refute the charge,' ran the last words of what was 
at best but a fragment, ' I must have broken my promise to 
you, and have compromised your name. Keeping silence 
myself, but letting the trial take place, law-inquiries, so exe- 
crable and so minute, would soon have traced through others 
that I was with you that evening. To clear myself I must 
have attainted your name with public slander, and drawn 
this horrible ordeal on you before the world. Let me be 
thought guilty. It matters little. Henceforth I shall be 
dead to all who know me, and my ruin would have exiled me 
without this. Do not let an hour of grief for me mar your 
peace, my dearest ; think of me with no pain, Beatrice, only 
with some memory of our past love. I have not strength yet 
to say — forget me ; and yet — if it be for your happiness — blot 
out from your remembrance all thought of w^hat we have been 
to one another ; all thought of me and of my life, save to 
remember now and then that I was dear to you.' 

The words grew indistinct before her sight, they touched 

the heart of the world-worn coquette, of the victorious sove- 

i reign, to the core ; she trembled greatly as she read them. 

\ For — in her hands was hisj^kt^ Though no hint of this 

I was breathed^n his"f are well letter, she knew that with a 

word she could clear him, free him, and call him back from 

exile and shame, give him once more honour and guiltlessness 

in the sight of the world. With a word she could do this : 

his life was in the balance, that she held as utterly as though 

; it were now hers to sign, or to destroy his death-warrant. It 

'\rested with her to speak, and to say he had no guilt. 

But to do this she must sacrifice herself. She stood mute, 
irresolute, a shudder running through her till her diamonds 
shook in the light ; the heavy tears stole slowly down one by 
one and fell upon the blurred and blackened paper ; her heart 
ached with an exceeding bitterness. Then, shudderingly still, 
and as though there were a coward crime in the action, her 
hand unclosed, and let the letter fall into the spirit flame of a 
silver lamp burning by ; the words that were upon it merited 
a better fate, a fonder cherishing, but — they would have com- 
promised her. She let them fall, and burn, and wither. 
With them she gave up his life to its burden of shame, to its 
fate of exile. 



IN THE CAFE OF THE CHASSEURS 183 

She would hear his crime condemned, and her lips would 
not open ; she would hear his name aspersed, and her voice 
would not be raised ; she would know that he dwelt in misery, 
or died under foreign suns unhonoured and unmourned, while 
tongues around her would babble of his disgrace — and she 
would keep her peace. 

She loved him — yes ; but she loved better the dignity in 
which the world held her, and the diamonds from which the 
law would divorce her if their love were known. 

Shejacrificed him for her reputation and her jewels ; the 
choice was thoroughly a woman's. 



CHAPTER Xm 

IN THE CAF^ OF THE CHASSEUBS 

The red-hot light of the afterglow still burn d on the 
waters of the bay, and shed its Egyptian-like lustre on the 
city that lies in the circle of the Sahel, with the Mediter- 
ranean so softly lashing with its violet waves the feet of the 
white sloping town. The sun had sunk down in fire — the 
sun that once looked over those waters on the legions of 
Scipio, and the iron brood of Hamilcar, and that now gave its 
lustre on the folds of the French flags as they floated above ; 
the shipping of the harbour, and on the glitter of the French ■ 
arms, as a squadron of the army of Algeria swept back over '' 
the hills to their barracks. Pell-mell in its fantastic confii^, 
sion, its incongruous blending, its forced mixture of two races, \ 
that will touch but never mingle, that will be chained together 
but will never assimilate, the Gallic-Moorish life of the city 
poured out ; all the colouring of Haroun al Raschid scattered 
broadcast among Parisian fashion and French routine. Away, 
yonder on the spurs and tops of the hills, the green sea-pines 
seemed to pierce the transparent air ; in the Cabash old 
dreamy Arabian legends poetic as Hafiz seem still to linger 
here and there under the foliage of hanging gardens or the 
picturesque curves of broken terraces ; in the distance the 
brown rugged Kabyl mountains lay like a couched camel, and 
far off against the golden haze a single palm rose, at a few 



r84 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

rare intervals, with its drooped curled leaves, as though to 
<^ recall, amid the shame of foreign domination, that this was 
r once the home of Hannibal, the Africa that had made Rome 
' tremble. 

J^ In the straight white boulevarts, as in the winding ancient 

^ ? streets, under the huge barn -like walls of barracks, as beneath 

the marvellous mosaics of mosques, the strange bizarre con- 

• j flict of European and Oriental life spread its panorama. Staff 

I I officers, all a-glitter with crosses, galloped past ; mules, laden 

:n,] with green maize and driven by lean brown Bedouins, swept 

' j past the plate-glass windows of bonbon shops ; grave white- 

j bearded sheiks drank petits verres in the guinguettes ; sapeurs, 

j Chasseurs, Zouaves, cantini^res, all the varieties of French 

i 1 military life, mingled with jet-black Soudans, desert kings 

j wrathful and silent, eastern women shrouded in haick and 

serroual, eagle-eyed Arabs flinging back snow-white burnous, 

and handling ominously the jewelled hilts of their cangiars. 

Alcazar chansons rang out from the caf6s, while in their 

midst stood the mosque, that had used to resound with the 

, Muezzin ; Bijou-blondine, and Bebee La-la, and all the sister- 

I heroines of demi;monde dragged their voluminous Paris-made 

I dresses side by side with Moorish beauties, who only dared 

I show the gleam of their bright black eyes through the yasmak ; 

I the r&verhercs ^ were lit in the Place du Gouvernement, and a 

i group fit for the days of Bolyman the Magnificent sat under 

''■ the white marble beauty of the Mohammedan church ; * Bieii 

n'est sacri pourun sapeur 1 ' was being smig to a circle of sous- 

officiers,^ close in the ear of a patriarch serenely majestic as 

Abraham ; gas-lights were flashing, cigar shops were filling, 

nev/spapers were being road, the Rigolboche was being danced, 

commis-voyageurs ^ were chattering with grisettes, drums were 

'beating, trumpets were sounding, bands were playing, and, 

amid it all, grave men were dropping on their square of carpet 

to pray, brass trays of sweetmeats were passing, ostrich eggs 

were dangling, henna-tipped fingers were drawing the envious 

veil close, and noble Oriental shadows were gliding to and fro 

through the open doors of the mosques, like a picture of the 

"Arabian Nights," like a poem of dead Islamism — in a 

word; it was Algiers at evening. 

' Lamps. - Non-commissioned officers. 

• Oommeroial travellers. 



IN THE CAFE OF THE CHASSEURS 185 

In one of the oafes there, a mingling of all the nations 
under the sun were drinking demi-tasses, absinthe, Vermont, 
or old wines, in the comparative silence that had succeeded 
to a song, sung by a certain favourite of the Spahis, known as 
Loo-Loo-j'n-m'en soucie-guere from Mile. Loo-Loo's well- 
known habits of independence and bravado, which last had 
gone once so far as shooting a man through the chest in the 
Rue Bab-al-Oued, and setting all the gendarmes and sergeants- 
de-ville at defiance afterwards. Half a dozen of that famous 
regiment the Chasseurs d'Afrigue were gathered together, 
some with their feet resting ^n the little marble-topped tables, 
some reading the French papers, all smoking their inseparable 
companions — the briHe-guezUes ; ^ — fine, stalwart, sunburnt 
fellows, with faces and figures that the glowing colours of 
their uniform set off to the best advantage. 

' Loo-Loo was in fine voice to-night,' said one. 

' Yes, she took plenty of cognac before she sang ; that 
always clears her voice,' said a second, 

' And I think that did her spirits good, shooting that 
Kabyl,' said a third. ' By the way, did he die ? * 

'N'sais pas,' said the third, with a shrug of his shoulders ; 
* Loo-Loo's a good aim.' 

' Sac k papier, yes ! Rire-pour-tout taught her.* 

'Ah t There never was a shot like Rire-pour-tout. When 
he went out, he always asked his adversary, " Where will you 
like it ? your lungs, your heart, your brain ? It is quite a 
matter of choice " — and whichever they chose, he shot there. 
Le pauvre Rire-pour-tout ! he was always good-natured.' 

' And did he never meet his match ? ' asked a sous-officier 
of the line. 

The speaker looked down on the piou-^iou ^ with superb 
contempt, and twisted his moustaches. * Monsieur ! how 
could he ? He was a Chasseur.' 

* But, if he never met his match, how did he die ? ' pur- 
sued the irreverent piou-pioii — a little wiry man, black as a 
berry, agile as a monkey, tough and short as a pipe-stopper. 

The magnificent Chasseur laughed in his splendid disdain. 
*A piou-pimi never killed him, that I promise you. He 
spitted half a dozen of you before breakfast, to give him h 
relish. How did Rire-pour-tout die ? I will tell you.' 

' Short pipes. * Infantry soldier. 



i86 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

He dipped his long moustaches into a beaker of still cham- 
pagne : Claude, Viscomte de Chanrellon, though in the ranks, 
could afford those luxuries. 

* He died this way, did Rire-pour-tout ? Dieu de Dieu ! a 
very good way too. Send us all the like when our time 
comes ! We were out yonder ' (and he nodded his handsome 
head outwards to where the brown seared plateaux and the 
Kabyl mountains lay). ' We were hunting Arabs, of course 
— pot-shooting rather, as we never got nigh enough to their 
main body to have a clear charge at them. Rire-pour-tout 
grew sick of it. " This won't do," he said ; " here's two weeks 
gone by, and I haven't shot anything but kites and jackals. 
I shall get my hand out." For Rire-pour-tout, as the army 
knows, somehow or other, generally potted his man every 
day, and he missed it terribly. Well, what did he do ? He 
rode off one morning and found out the Arab camp, and he 
waved a white flag for a parley. He didn't dismount, but 
he just faced the Arabs and spoke to their Sheik. " Things 
are slow," he said to them. ** I h^^ve come for a little amuse- 
ment. Set aside six of your best warriors, and I'll fight 
them one after another for the honour of France, and a drink 
of brandy to the conqueror." They demurred ; they thought 
it unfair to him to have six to one. " Ah ! " he laughed, " you 
have heard of Rire-pour-tout, and you are afraid ! " That put 
their blood up : they said they would fight him before all his 
Chasseurs. " Come, and welcome," said Rire-pour-tout ; *' and 
not a hair of your beards shall be touched except by me." So 
the bargain was made for an hour before sunset that night. 
Mort de Dieu ! that was a grand duel ! ' 

He dipped his long moustaches again into another beaker 
of still. Talking was thirsty work ; the story was well 
known in all the African army, but the piou-piou, having 
served in China, was new to the soil. 

* The General was ill pleased when he heard it, and half 
foi arresting Rire-pour-tout ; but — sacr6 ! — the thing was 
done ; our honour was involved ; he had engaged to fight these 
men, and engaged for us to let them go in peace afterwards ; 
there was no more to be said, unless we had looked like 
cowards, or traitors, or both. There was a wide level 
plateau in front of our camp, and the hills were at our backs 
— a fine field for the duello ; and, true to time, the Arabs 
filed on to the plain, and fronted us in a long line, with their 



IN THE CAFE OF THE CHASSEURS i8y 

standards, and their crescents, and their cymbals and reed- 
pipes, and kettle-drums, all glittering and sounding. Sac a 
"papicr I there was a show, and we could not fight one of 
them ! We were drawn up in line — Horse, Foot, and Artil- 
lery — Rire-pour-tout all alone, some way in advance, mounted 
of course. The General and the Sheik had a conference ; 
then the play began. There were six Arabs picked out — the 
flower of the army — all white and scarlet, and in their 
handsomest bravery, as if they came to an aoucla. They were 
fine men — diahle ! — they were fine men. Now the duel was 
to be with swords ; these had been selected ; and each Arab 
was to come against Rire-pour-tout singly, in succession. 
Our drums rolled the 'pas de charge, and their cymbals clashed ; 
they shouted "Fantasia ! '' and the first Arab rode at him. 
Rire-pour-tout sat like a rock, and lunge went his steel 
through the Bedouin's lung before you could cry hol^ ! — a 
death-stroke, of course. Rire-pour-tout always killed : that 
was his perfect science. Another and another and another 
came, just as fast as the blood flowed. You know what the 
Arabs are — vous autres ? How they v^heel and swerve and 
fight flying, and pick up their sabre from the ground, while 
their horse is galloping ventre d terre, and pierce you here and 
pierce you there, and circle round you like so many hawks ? 
You know how they fought Rire-pour-tout then, one after 
another, more like devils than men. Mort de Dieu ! it was a 
magnificent sight I He was gashed here and gashed there ; 
but they could never unseat him, try how they would ; and 
one after another he caught them sooner or later, and sent 
them reeling out of their saddles, till there was a great red 
lake of blood all round him, and five of them lay dead or 
dying down in the sand. He had mounted afresh twice, 
three horses had been killed underneath him, and his jacket 
all hung in strips where the steel had slashed it. It was 
grand to see, and did one's heart good ; but — ventre hleii I — 
how one longed to go in too. 

' There was only one left now — a young Arab, the Sheik's 
son, and down he came like the wind. He thought with the 
dhock to unhorse Rire-pour-tout, and finish him then at his 
leisure. Y'^ou could hear the crash as they met like two huge 
cymbals smashing together. Their chargers bit and tore at 
each other's manes ; they were twined in together there as if 
khey were but one man and one beast ; they shook and they 



r88 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

swayed and they rocked ; the sabres played about their heads 
so quick that it was like lightuing as they flashed and twirled 
in the sun ; the hoofs trampled up the sand till a yellow 
cloud hid their struggle, and out of it all you could see waa 
the head of a horse tossing up and sponting with foam, or a 
sword-blade lifted to strike. Then the tawny cloud settled 
down a little, the sand-mist cleared away, the Arab's saddle 
was empty, but Eire -pour- tout sat like a rock. The old 
Chief bowed his head. *' It is over 1 Allah is great ! " And 
he knew his son lay there dead. Then we broke from the 
ranks, and we rushed to the place where the chargers and 
men were piled like so many slaughtered sheep. Rire-pour- 
tout laughed such a gay ringing laugh as the desert never 
/ 'had heard. '* Vive la Erance 1 " he cried. " And now bring 
j me my toss of' brandy." Then down headlong out of his 
I stirrups he reeled and fell under his horse ; and when we 
lifted him up there were two broken sword-blades buried in 
him, and the blood was pouring fast as water out of thirty 
wounds and more. That was how Rire-pour-tout died, pio2i- 
pioti, laughing to the last. Sacrebleu ! it was a splendid end ; 
\J. wish I were sure of the like.' 

And Claude de Cbanrellon drank down his third beaker, 
for over-much speech made him thirsty. 

The men around him emptied their glasses in honour of the 
dead hero. 

* Rire-pour-tout was a croqtie-mitaine,' ^ they said solemnly, 
with almost a sigh, so tendering by their words the highest 
funeral oration. 

* You have much of such sharp service here, I suppose '? ' 
asked a voice in very pure French. The speaker was leaning 
against the open door of the caf6 ; a tall, lightly built man, 
dressed in a velvet shooting tunic, much the worse for wind 
and weather, a loose shirt, and jack-boots splashed and 
worn out. 

' When we are at it, monsieur,' returned the Chasseur. 
' I only wish we had more.' 

* Of course. Are you in need of recruits ? ' 

* They all want to come to us and to the Zouaves,' smiled 
Chanrellon, surveying the figure of the one who addressed 
him with a keen sense of its symmetry and its sinew. ' Still, 

' Fire-eater. 



IN THE CAFE OF THE CHASSEURS 189 

a good sword brings its welcome. Do you ask sericusly, 
monsieur ? * 

The bearded Arabs smoking their long pipes, the little 
piou-piou drowning his mortiiication in some cura9oa, the 
idlers reading the Ahhah or the Presse, the Chasseurs lounging 
over their drink, the ecarte players lost in their game, all 
looked up at the new-comer. They thought he looked a 
likely wearer of the dead honours of Rire- pour-tout. 

He did not answer the questions Uterally, but came over 
from the doorway and seated himself at the little marble 
table opposite Claude, leaning his elbows on it. 

* I have a doubt,' he said. * I am more inclined to your 
foes.' 

Dieu de Dieu ! ' ejaculated Chanrellon, pulling at his 
tawny moustaches. * A bold thing to say before five 
Chasseurs.' 

He smiled a little contemptuously, a little amusedly. 

* I am not a croq_ue-mitaine, perhaps ; but I say what I 
think, with little heed of my auditors usually.' 

Chanrellon bent his bright brown eyes curiously on him. 

* He is a croque-mitaine, he thought. * He is not to be 
lost.' 'K?^ 

M -ptefer your foes,' went on the other, quite quietly ,'^!i7< 
quite listlessly, as though the glittering, gaslit caf6 were not' i^ ^ 
full of French soldiers. ' In the first place, they are on the 
losing side ; in the second they are the lords of the soil ; in 
the third, they Uve as free as air ; and in the fourth, they 
have undoubtedly the right of the quarrel ! ' * 

* Monsieur ! ' cried the Chasseurs, laying their hands on 
their swords, fiery as lions. He looked indolently and wearily 
up from under the long lashes of his lids, and went on, as 
though they had not spoken. 

* I will fight you all, if you like, as that worthy of yours, 
Rire-pour-tout, did, but I don't think it's worth while,' he 
said, carelessly, where he leaned over the marble table. 

* Brawling's bad style ; we don't do it. I was saying, I like 
your foes best ; mere matter of taste ; no need to quarrel over 
it — that I see. I shall go into their service or into yours, 
monsieur — will you play a game of dice to decide ? ' 

* Decide ?— but how ? ' 
' Why — this way,' said the other, with the weary list- 

lessness of one who cares not two straws how things turn. 



190 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

• If I win I go to the Arabs ; if you win I come to your 

ranks.' 

' Mort de Dieu ! it is a droll gambling/ murmured Chan- 
rellon. * But — if you do win, do you think we shall let you 
go off to our enemies 1 Pas si bete, monsieur I * ^ 

* Yes, you will '' said the other, quietly. * Men who 
knew what honour meant enough to redeem Rire-pour-tout's 
]Dledge of safety to the Bedouins, will not take advantage of 
an openly confessed and unarmed adversary.* 

A murmur of ratification ran through his listeners. 
Chanrellon swore a mighty oath. 

* Pardieu, No. You are right. If you want to go, you 
shall go. HoltL there ! bring the dice. Champagne, monsieur ? 
Vermont? Cognac?' 

* Nothing, I thank you,' 

He leant back with an apathetic indolence and indifference, 
oddly at contrast with the injudicious daring of his war- 
pro voldng words, and the rough campaigning that he sought ; 
the assembled Chasseurs eyed him curiously ; they liked hia 
manner, and they resented his first speeches ; they noted every 
particular about him — his delicate white hands, his weather- 
worn and travel- stained dress, his fair aristocratic features, 
his sweeping abundant beard, his careless, cool, tired, reckless 
way ; and they were uncertain what to make of him. 
• The dice were brought. 

' What stakes, monsieur ? ' asked Chanrellon. 

* Ten napoleons a side — and — the Arabs.' 

He set ten napoleons down on the table ; they were the 
only coins he had in the world ; it was very characteristic 
that he risked them. 

They threw the main — two sixes. 

* You see,' he murmured, with a half smile, * the dice 
know it is a drawn duel between you and the Arabs.' 

' C'est un drole, c'est un brave ! ' "^ muttered Chanrellon ; 
and they threw again. 

The Chasseur cast a five ; his was a five again. 

' The dice cannot make up their minds,' said the other 
listlessly, * they know you are Might and the Arabs are 
Right.' 

The Frenchmen laughed ; they could take a jest good- 

' Not such fools, monsieur. 

* An odd fellow 1 A brave fellow I 



IN THE CAFE OF THE CHASSEURS 191 

humouredly, and alone amid so many of them he was made 
sacred at once by the very length of odds agamst him. 

They rattled the boxes and threw again — Chanrellon's was 
three ; his two. 

' Ah ! ' he murmured. ' Right kicks the beam and loses ; 
it always does, poor devil 1 ' 

The Chasseur leaned across the table, with his brown, 
fearless, sunny eyes full of pleasure. 

' Monsieur 1 never lament such good fortune for France, 
you belong to us now ; let me claim you I ' 

He bowed more gravely than he had borne himself hitherto. 

* You do me much honour ; fortune has willed it so. One 
word only in stipulation.' 

Chanrellon assented courteously. 

* As many as you choose.' 

'I have a companion who must be brigaded with me, and 
I must go on active service at once.' 

* With infinite pleasure. That doubtless can be arranged. 
You shall present yourself to-morrow morning; and for" to- 
night, this is not the season here yet, and we are triste d 
fairefremir} Still I can show you a little fun, though it is 
not Paris ! ' 

But he rose and bowed again. 

* I thank you, not to-night. You shall see me at your 
barracks with the morning.' 

' Ah, ah I monsieur ! ' cried the Chasseur, eagerly, and a 
little annoyed. ' What warrant have we that you will not 
dispute the decree of the dice, and go off to your favourites, 
the Arabs ? ' 

He turned back and looked full in Chanrellon's face, his 
own eyes a little surprised, and infinitely weary. 

* WIl2iL'v^'^'"- ^nt ? ,J\lj promise.' 

Then, without another syllable, he lounged slowly out 
through the soldiers and the idlers, and disappeared in the 
confused din and chiar'oscuro of the gaslit street without, 
through the press of troopers, grisettes, merchants, beggars, 
sweetmeat-sellers, lemonade-sellers, cura9oa-sellers, gaunt 
Bedouins, negro boys, shrieking muleteers, laughing lorettes, 
and glittering staff-officers. 

' That is done ! ' he murmured to his own thoughts. 
' Ns5y.jQr Jlfe_ under another flag ! ' 

' Frightfully dull. 



192 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

Claude de Chanrellon sat mute and amazed awhile, gazing 
at the open door ; then he drank a fourth beaker of cham- 
pagne and flung the emptied glass down with a mighty crash. 
p- ' Ventre -bleu I Whoever he is,_that man will eat fire. bo7is 



CHAPTER XIV 

*DB PEOPUNDIS ' BEPOEE ' PLUNGINO * 

Three months later, it was guest-night in the mess-room of 
a certain famous light cavalry regiment, who bear the repu- 
tation of being the fastest corps in the English service. Of 
a truth, they do ' plunge ' a little too wildly ; and stories 
are told of bets over ^carte in their ante-room that have been 
prompt extinction for ever and aye to the losers, for they 
rarely play money down, their stakes are too high, and mode- 
rate fortunes may go in a night with the other convenient but 
fatal system. But, this one indiscretion apart, they are a 
model corps for blood, for dash, for perfect social accord, for 
the finest horseflesh in the kingdom, and the best president 
at a mess-table that ever drilled the cook to matchlessness, 
and made the iced dry, and the old burgundies, the admired 
of all new-comers. 

Just now they had pleasant quarters enough in York, had 
a couple of hundred hunters, all in all, in their stalls, were 
showing the Ridings that they could * go like birds,' and 
were using up their second horses with every day out, in the 
first of the season. A cracker over the best of the ground 
with the York and Ainsty, that had given two first-rate 
things quick as lightning, and both closed with a kill, had 
filled the day ; and they were dining with a fair quantity of 
county guests, and all the splendour of plate, and ceremony, 
and magnificent hospitalities which characterise those beaux 
sahreurs wheresoever they go. At one part of the table a 
discussion was going on as the claret passed around ; wines 
were perfection at the mess, but they drank singularly little : 
it was not their * form * ever to indulge in that way ; and the 
Chief, as dashing a sabreur as ever crossed a saddle, though 
lenient to looseness in all other matters, and very young for 



-DE PROFUNDIS' BEFORE 'PLUNGING' 193 

his command, would have been down like steel on * the boys,' 
had any of them taken to the pastime of overmuch drinking 
in any shape. 

* I can't get the rights of the story,' said one of the guests, 
a hunting Baronet, and M.F.H. ' It's something very dark, 
isn't it ? ' 

* Very dark,' assented a tall handsome man, with an 
habitual air of the most utterly exhausted apathy ever at- 
tained by the human features, but who, nevertheless, had 
been christened, by the fiercest of the warrior nations of the 
Punjaub, as the Shumsheer-i-Shaitan, or Sword of the Evil 
One, so terrible had the circling sweep of one back stroke of 
his, when he was quite a boy, become to them. 

' Guards cut up fearfully rough,' murmured one near him, 
known as the ' Dauphin,' * such a low sort of thing, you 
know, that's the worst of it. Seraph's name, too.' 

* Poor old Seraph ! he's fairly bowled over about it,' added 
a third. Feels it awfully — by Jove he does ! It's my belief 
he paid those Jew fellows the whole sum to get the pursuit 
slackened.' 

* So Thelusson says. Thelusson says Jews have made a 
cracker by it. I dare say ! Jews always do,' muttered a 
fourth. * First Life would have given Beauty a million 
sooner than have him do it. Horrible thing for the Household.' 

' Eiii is he dead ? ' pursued their guest. 

* Beauty ? Yes ; smashed 'm that express, you know.' ^ 

* But there was no evidence ? ' 

* I don't know what you call evidence,' murmured ' the 
Dauphin.' * Horses are sent to England from Paris ; clearly 
shows he went to Paris. Marseilles train smashes ; twenty 
people ground into indistinguishable amalgamation; two of 
the amalgamated jammed head foremost in a carriage alone ; 
only traps in carriage with them. Beauty's traps, with name 
clear on the brass outside, and crest clear on silver things in- 
side ; two men ground to atoms, but traps safe ; two men, of 
course Beauty and servant ; man was a plucky fellow, sure to 
stay with him.' 

And having given the desired evidence in lazy Uttle in- 
tervals of speech, he took some Rhenish. 

* Well — yes ; nothing could be more conclusive, certainly,* 
assented the Baronet, resignedly convinced. ' It was the 
best thing that could happen under the unfortunate oircun?.- 

o 






194 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

stances, so Lord Royallieu thinks, I suppose. He allowed 
no one to wear mourning, and had his unhappy son's portrait 
taken down and burnt.' 

* HoT^JSl^Qdramatic 1 ' reflected Leo Charteris. ' Now 
what the deuce can it hurt a dead man to have his portrait 
made into a bonfire? Old Lord always did hate Beauty, 
though. Rock does all the mourning; he's cut up no end; 
never saw a fellow so knocked out of time. Vowed at first 
he'd sell out, and go into the Austrian service ; swore he 
couldn't stay in the Household, but v/ould get a command of 
some Heavies, and be changed to India.' 

'Duke didn't like that — didn't want him shot; nobody 
else, you see, for the title. By George ! I wish you'd seen 
Rock the other day on the Heath ; little Pulteney came up 
to him.' 

* What Pulteney ? — Jimmy, or the Earl ? ' 

* Oh, the Earl. Jimmy would have known better. These 
new men never know anything. " You purchased that famous 
steeplechaser of his from Mr. Cecil's creditors, didn't you ? " 
asks Pulteney. Rock just looks him over. Such a look, by 
George ! " I received Forest King as my dead friend's last 
gift." Pulteney never takes the hint — not he. On he blun- 
ders : " Because, if you were inclined to part with him, I 
want a good new huntmg strain, with plenty of fencing power, 
and I'd take him for the stud at any figure you liked." I 
thought the Seraph would have knocked him down — I did, 
upon my honour ! He was red as this wine in a second with 
rage, and then as white as a woman. " You are quite right," 
he says quietly, and I swear each word cut like a bullet, " you 
do want a new strain with something like breeding in it, but 
— I hardly think you'll get it for the three next generations. 
You must learn to know what it means first." Then away he 
lounges, leaving Pulteney ])lantc Id. By Jove ! I don't think 
the Cotton-Earl will forget this Cambridgeshire in a hun-y, 
or try horse-dealing on the Seraph again.' 

Laughter loud and long greeted the story. 

' Poor Beauty ! ' said the Dauphin, * he'd have enjoyed 
that. He always put down Pulteney himself. I remember 
his telling me he was on duty at Windsor once when Pulteney 
was staying there. Pulteney's always horribly funked at 
Court ; frightened out of his life when he dines with any 
royalties ; makes an awful figure, too, in a public ceremony ; 



•DE PROFUNDIS' BEFORE ♦PLUNGING' 195 

can't walk backward for any money, and at liis first levee 
tumbled down rigbt in the Queen's face. Now at the Castle 
one niglit he jnst happened to come down a corridor as Beauty 
was smoking. Beauty made believe to take him for a servant ; 
took out a sovereign, and tossed it to him. " Here, keep a 
still tongue about my cigar, my good fellow ! " Pulteney 
turned hot and cold, and stammered out God knows what 
about his mighty dignity being mistaken for a valet. Bertie 
just laughed a Uttie, ever so softly. "Beg your pardon — 
thought you were one of the people ; wouldn't have done it 
for worlds. I know you're never at ease with a sovereign ! " 
Now Pulteney wasn't likely to forget that. If he -svanted 
the King, I'U lay any money it was to give him to some 
wretched mount who'd break his back over a fence in a sell- 
ing race.' 

' Well, he won't have him ; Seraph don't intend to have 
the horse ever ridden or hunted at all.' 

* Nonsense ! * 

* By Jove, he means it I Nobody's to cross the King's back ; 
he wants weight carriers himself, you know, and precious 
strong ones too. The King's put in the stud at Lyonnesse. 
Poor Bertie ! Nobody ever managed a close finish as he did at 
the Grand National— last but two — don't you remember ? ' 

* Yes ; waited so beautifully on Fly-by-Night, and shot by 
him like lightning just before the run-in. Pity he went to 
the bad ! ' 

' Ah ! what a hand he played at ^carte ; the very best of 
the French science.' 

* But reckless at w^hist ; a wild game there — uncommonly 
wild. Drove Cis Delareux half mad one night at RoyalHeu 
with the way he threw his trumps out. Old Cis dashed his 
cards down at last, and looked him full in the face. " Beauty, 
do you know, or do you not know, that a whist table is not 
to be taken as you take timber in a hunting-field, on the 
principle of clear it or smash it?" — "Faith!" said Bertie, 
"clear it or smash it is a very good rule for anything, but a 
trifle too energetic for me." * 

'The deuce, he's had enough of "smashing" at last! I 
wish he hadn't come to grief in that style ; it's a shocking 
bore for the Guards — such an ugly story.' 

' It was uncommonly like him to get killed just when he 
did — best possible taste.' 

02 



196 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

' Only thing he oould do.* 

* Better taste would have been to do it earlier. I always 
wondered he stopped for the row.' 

' Oh, never thought it would turn up ; trusted to a fluke.' 
He whom thePunjaub knew as the Sword of the Evil One, 
but who held in polite society the title of Lord Kergenven, 
drank some hock slowly, and murmured as his sole quota to 
the conversation very lazily and languidly : 

* Beiyou he isn't dead at all.' 

* The deuce you do ? And why ? * chorused the table ; 
'when a fellow's body's found with all his traps round 
him I ' 

I don't believe he's dead,* murmured Kergenven with 
closed slumberous eyes. 

* But why ? Have you heard anything ? ' 
'Not a word.' 

' "Why do you say he's alive, then ? ' 

My lord lifted his brows ever so little. 

' I think so, that's all.' 

' But you must have a reason, Ker ? ' 

Badgered into speech, Kergenven drank a little more hock, 
and dropped out slowly in the mellowest voice in the world 
the following : 

' It don't follow one has reasons for anything : pray don't 
get logical. Two years ago I was out in a chasse au sanglier ; 
central France. Perhaps you don't know their work ? It's 
uncommonly queer. Break up the Alps into little bits, scatter 
'em pell-mell over a great forest, and then set a killing pack 
to hunt through and through it. Delightful chance for coming 
to grief ; even odds that if you don't pitch down a ravine, 
you'll get blinded for life by a branch ; that if you don't get 
flattened under a boulder, you'll be shot by a twig catching 
your rifle-trigger. Uncommonly good sport.' 

Exhausted with so lengthened an exposition of the charms 
of the venerie and the hallali, he stopped, and dropped a wal- 
nut into some Regency sherry. 

' Hang it, Ker I ' cried the Dauphin. ' What's that to do 
with Beauty ? ' 

My lord let fall a flieepy glance of surprise and of rebuke 
from under his black lashes, that said mutely, * Do I, who 
hate talking, ever talk wide of any point ? ' 

' Why this,' he murtpwred. ' He was with us down at 



»DE PROFUNDIS' BEFORE 'PLUNGING' 197 

Veilleroo, Louis d'Auvrai's place, you know ; and w« were 
out after an old boar — not too old to race, but still tough 
enough to be likely to turn and trust to his tusks if the pace 
got very hot, and he was hard pressed at the finish. Wg 
hadn't found, till rather late, the limeurs were rather new to 
the work, and the November day was short, of course. The 
pack got on the slot of a roebuck, too, and were off the boar's 
scent a little while, running wild. Altogether we got scat- 
tered, and in the forest it grew almost as dark as pitch : you 
followed just as you could, and could only guide yourself by 
your ear when the hounds gave cry, or the horns sounded. 
On you blundered, hit or miss, headlong down the rocks and 
through the branches ; horses warmed wonderfully to the 
business, scrambled like cats, slid down like otters, kept their 
footing where nobody'd have thought anything but a goat 
could stand. Our hunting bloods knock up over a cramped 
country like Monmouthshire ; they wouldn't live an hour in 
a French forest : you see we just look for pace and strength 
in the shoulders, we don't much want anything else — except 
good jumping power. What a lot of fellows — even in the 
crack packs — will always funk water I Horses will fly, but 
they can't swim. Now to my fancy, a clever beast ought to 
take even a swelling bit of v^^ater like a duck. How poor 
Standard breasted rivers till that fool staked him ! ' 

He dropped more walnuts into his wine, wistfully recalling 
a mighty hero of Leicestershire fame, that had given him 
many a magnificent day out, and had been the idol of his 
stables, till in his twelfth year the noble old sorrel had been 
killed by a groom's recklessness ; recklessness that met with 
such chastisement, as told how and why the hill-tribes' so- 
briquet had been given to the hand that would lie so long 
in indolent rest, to strike with such fearful force when once 
raised. 

' Well,* he went on once more. ' We were all of us 
scattered ; scarcely two kept together anywhere ; where the 
pack was, where the boar was, where the huntsmen were, 
nobody knew. Now and then I heard the hounds giving 
tongue at the distance, and I rode after that to the best of 
my science, and uncommonly bad was the best. That forest 
work perplexes one after the grass-country. You can't view 
the beauties two minutes together ; and as for sinning by 
overriding 'em, you're very safe not to do that ! At last I 



198 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

heard a crashing sound, loud and furious ; I thought they had 
got him to bay at last. There was a great oak thicket as 
hard as iron, and as close as a net, between me and the place ; 
the boughs were all twisted together, God knows how, and 
grew so low down that the naked branches had to be broken 
through at every step by the horse's fore-hoofs before he could 
force a step. We did force it somehow at last, and came into 
a green open space, where there were fewer trees, and the 
moon was shining in. There, without a hound near, true 
enough was the boar rolling on the ground, and somebody 
rolling under him, they were locked in so close they looked 
just like one huge beast, pitching here and there, as you've 
seen the rhinos wallow in Indian jheels. Of course, I levelled 
my rifle, but I waited to get a clear aim ; for which was man 
and which was boar, the deuce a bit could I tell ; just as I 
had pointed, Beauty's voice called out to me : " Keep your 
fire, Ker 1 I want to have him myself." It was he that was 
under the brute. Just as he spoke they rolled towards me, 
the boar foaming and spouting blood, and plunging his tusks 
into Cecil. He got his right arm out from under the beast, 
and, crushed under there as he was, drew it free with the 
knife well gripped. Then down he dashed it three times into 
the veteran's hide, just beneath the ribs. It was the coup de 
grd-ce — the boar lay dead, and Beauty lay half-dead, too, the 
blood rushing out of him where the tusks had dived. Two 
minutes, though, and a draught of my brandy brought him 
all round ; and the first words he spoke were, '* Thanks, Ker, 
you did as you would be done by — a shot would have spoilt 
it all." The brute had crossed his path far away from the 
pack, and he had fluiig himself out of saddle and had a neck- 
and-neck struggle. And that night we played baccarat by his 
bedside to amuse him ; and he played just as well as ever. 
/' TSlow this is why I don't think he's dead : a fellow who 
] served a wild boar like that won't have let a train knock him 
I over. And I don't believe he forged that stiff, though all the 
evidence says so. Beauty hadn't a touch of the blackguard 
in him.' 
L-- With which declaration of his views, Kergeuven lapsed 
into immutable silence and slumberous apathy, from whose 
shelter nothing could tempt him afresh ; and the Colonel, with 
all the rest, lounged into the ante-room, where the tables 
wore set, and began • plunging ' in earnest at sums that 



*L'AMIE DU DRAPEAU' 199 

might sound fabulous, were they written here. The players 
staked heavily ; but it was the galerie who watched around, 
making their bets, and backing their favourites, that lost on 
the whole the most. 

* Horse Guards have heard of the plunging ; think we're 
going too fast,* murmured the Chief to Kergenven, his Major, 
who lifted his brows, and murmured back with the demure- 
ness of a maiden : 

* Tell 'em it's our only vice ; we're models of propriety.' 
Which possibly would not have been received with the 

belief desirable by the sceptics of Pall Mall. 

So the ' De Profundis ' was said over Bertie Cecil; and 
* Beauty of the Brigades ' ceased to be named in the service, 
and soon ceased to be even remembered. In the steeple-^ 
chase of life there is no time to look back at the failures, wli/ 
have broken down over a * double and drop,' and fallen oat 
of the pace. / 



CHAPTER XY 

* L'AMIE DU DBAPEAU ' 

* Did I not say he would eat fire ? ' 

' Pardieu ! C'est un brave.' 

' Rides like an Arab.* 

' Smokes like a Zouave.' 

* Cuts off a head with that back circular sweep — ah^ — 
h — h I magnificent ! ' 

' And dances like an Aristocrat ; not hke a tipsy Spahis ! ' 

The last crown to the chorus of applause, and insult to the 
circle of applauders, was launched with all the piquance of 
inimitable canteen -slang and camp-assurance, from a speaker 
who had perched astride on a broken fragment of wall, with 
her barrel of wine set up on end on the stones in front of her, 
and her six soldiers, her gros bdbds,^ as she was given mater- 
nally to calhng them, lounging at their ease on the arid dusty 
turf below. She was very pretty, audaciously pretty, though 

' Big babies. 



\ 200 v'AV^^ under two flags 

1 ,her skin was burned to a bright sunny brown, and her hair 

\ was cut as short as a boy's, and her face had not one regular 

feature in it. But then — regularity 1 — who wanted it, who 

would have thought the most pure classic type a change for 

the better, with those dark, dancing, challenging eyes, with 

j that arch, brilliant, kitten-like face, so sunny, so mignon, and 

[ those scarlet lips like a bud of camellia that were never so 

1 handsome as when a cigarette was between them, or, sooth to 

i say, not seldom a brdie-gueule ^ itself ? 

She was pretty, she was insolent, she was intolerably 
coquettish, she was mischievous as a marmoset, she would 
swear if need be like a Zouave, she could fire galloping, she 
could toss off her brandy or her vermout like a trooper, she 
would on occasion clinch her little brown hand and deal a 
blow that the recipient would not covet twice, she was an 
enfant de Paris, and had all its wickedness at her fingers, she 
would sing you guinguette songs till you were suffocated with 
laughter, and she would dance the cancan at the Salle de 
Mars with the biggest giant of a Cuirassier there. And yet 
with all that she was not wholly unsexed, with all that she 
had the delicious fragrance of youth, and had not left a 
certain feminine grace behind her, though she wore a vivan- 
di^re's uniform, and had been born in a barrack, and meant 
to die in a battle ; it was the blending of the two that made 
her piquante, made her a notoriety in her own way ; kno'v\Ti 
at pleasure, and equally, in the army of Africa, as ' Cigarette,' 
"*^d * L'Amie du Drapeau.' 

' Not like a tipsy Spahis I * It was a cruel cut to iier gros 
Mh&Sy mostly Spahis, lying there at her feet, or rather at the 
foot of the wall, singing their praises — with magnanimity 
beyond praise — of a certain Chasseur d'Afrique. 

' Ho, Cigarette I * growled a little Zouave, known as Tata 
Leroux. * That is the way thou forsakest thy friends for the 
first fresh face.' 

* Well, it is not a face like a tobacco-stopper, as thine is, 
Tata I * responded Cigarette with a puff of her namesake ; 
the repartee of the camp is apt to be rough. * He is Bel-d 
faire-peur, as you nickname him.' 

' A woman's face 1 ' growled the injured Tata, whose own 
countenance was of the colour and weilnigh of the flatness of 
one of the red bricks of the wall. 

' Short pipe. 



«L'AMIE DU DRAPEAU' 90i 

' Ouf I ' said the Friend of the Flag with more expression 
in that single ejaculation than could be put in a volume. 

* He does woman's deeds, does he ? He has, woman's hands ; 
but they can fight, I fancy ? Six Arabs to his own sword the 
other day in that skirmish ! Superb ! ' 

' Sapristi ! And what did he say, this droll, when he 
looked at them lying there ? Just shrugged his shoulders and 
rode away. " I'd better have killed myself ; less mischief on 
the whole I *' Now who is to make anything of such a man 
as that ? ' 

' Ah 1 he did not stop to cut their gold buttons off, and 
steal their cangiars, as thou wouldst have done, Tata? 
Well ! he has not learnt la guerre,'^ laughed Cigarette. 

* It was a waste ; he should have brought me their sashes at 
least. By-the-way — when did he join ? ' 

' Ten — twelve — years ago, or thereabouts.' 

' He should have learnt to strip Arabs by this time, then,* 
said the Amie du Drapeau, turning the tap of her barrel to 
replenish the wine- cup ; ' and to steal from them, too, living 
or dead. Thoic must take him in hand, Tata ! ' 

Tata laughed, considering that he had received a compli- 
ment. 

* Diable ! I did a neat thing yesterday. Out on the 
hills, there, was a shepherd ; he'd got two live geese swing- 
ing by their feet. They were screeching — screeching — 
screeching ! — and they looked so nice and so plump, that I 
could smell them, as if they were stewing in a casserole, till 
I began to get as hungry as a gamin. A lunge would just 
have cut the question at once ; but the orders have got so 
strict about potting the natives, I thought I wouldn't have 
any violence, if the thing would go nice and smoothly. So I 
just walked behind him, and tripped him up before he knew 
where he was ; — it was a picture ! He was down with his 
face in the sand before you could sing Tra-la-la I Then I 
just sat upon him ; but gently—very gently : and what with 
the sand and the heat, and the surprise, and, in truth, perhaps, 
a little too, my own weight, he was half suffocated. He had 
never seen me ; he did not know what it was that was sitting 
on him ; and I sent my voice out with a roar — '* I am a 
demon, and the fiend hath bidden me take him thy soul 

» The art of war. 



202 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

to-night t " Ah ! how he began to tremble, and to kick, and to 
quiver. He thought it was the devil a-top of him ; and he 
began to moan as well as the sand would let him, that he was 
a poor man, and an innocent, and the geese were the only 
things he ever stole in all his life. Then I went through a 
little pantomime with him, and I was very terrible in my 
threats, and he was choking and choking with the sand, 
though he never let go of the geese. At last, I relented a 
little, and told him I would spare him that once, if he gave 
up the stolen goods, and never lifted his head for an hour. 
Sapristi ! How glad he was of the terms ! I dare say my 
weight was unpleasant ; so the geese made us a divine stew 
that night, and the last thing I saw of my man was his 
lying flat as I left him, with his face still down in the sand- 
hole.' 

Cigarette nodded and laughed. 

' Pretty fair, Tata ; but I have heard better. Bah ! a 
grand thing certainly, to fright a peasant, and scamper off 
with a goose ! ' 

' Sacrebleu ! * grumbled Tata, who was himself of opinion 
that his exploit had been worthy of the feats of Harlequin ; 
* thy heart is all gone to the Enghshman.' 

Cigarette laughed saucily and heartily, tickled at the joke. 
Sentiment has an exquisitely ludicrous side when one is a 
vivandidi'e aux yeux noirs,^ perched astride on a wall, and 
dispensing brandy-dashed wine to half a dozen sun-baked 
Bpahis. 

Vivandi^re du regiment, 
C'est Catin qu'on me nomme ; 

Je vends, je donne, je bois gigment, 
Mon vin et mon rogomme ; 

J'ai le pied leste et I'ooil mutin, 

Tintin, tintin, tintin, r'lin tintin, 

Soldats, voil^ Catin ! ' 

she sang with the richest, freshest, mellowest voice that ever 
chanted the deathless refrains of the French Lucilius. 

* My heart is a reveille-matin, Tata ; it wakes fresh every 
day. An Englishman,_perdie 1 Why d ost thou think him 
that?' " 

'^ Because ho is a giant,* said Tata. ^ 

Cigarette snapped her fingers : 

' A black-eyed wine-seller. 



•L'AMIE DU DRAPEAU' 203 

* I have danced with grenadiers and cuirassiers quite as tali, 
and twice as heavy. A2:)rds ? ' 

' Because he bathes — splash ! Like any water-dog.* 

* Because he is silent.' ^ 
' Because he rises in his stirrups.' ^ 
'Because he likes the sea.' «^ 

* Because he knows la boxe.' ^ ^ 

* Because he is so quiet, and blazes like the devil under- 
neath.' 

Under which mass of overw^ielming proofs of nationality \^ 
the Amie du Drapeau give in. 

' Yes, like enough. Besides, the other one is English 
Lour-i-loo, of the Chasse-7narais,^ tells me that the other 
one waits on him like a slave when he can — cleans his 
harness, litters his horse, saves him all the hard work, when 
ho can do it without being found out. Where did they come 
from ? * 

' They will never tell.' 

Cigarette tossed her nonchalant head, with a pout of her j 
cherry lips, and a slang oath, light as a bird, wicked as a I 
rigolbochade. 

' Paf I—they will tell it to me ! ' 

' Chut ! Thou mayest make a lion tame, a vulture leave 
blood, a drum beat its own rataplan, a dead man fire a 
clarmette ^ d six pieds ; but thou wilt never make an English- 
man speak when he is bent to be silent.' 

Cigarette launched a choice missile of barrack-slang at an 
array of metaphors, which their propounder thought stupen- 
dous in their brilliancy. 

'Becasse! When you stole your geese, you did but take 
your brethren home ! Englishmen are but men. Put the 
wine in their head, make them whirl in a waltz, promise 
them a kiss, and one turns such brains as they have inside 
out, as a irlou-piou ^ turns a dead soldier's wallet. When a 
woman is handsome, she is never denied. He shall tell me 
where he comes from. I doubt that it is from England ; see 
here — why not ? ' — and she checked the Noes off on her lithe 
brown fingers : * First, he never says God-damn ; second, he 
don't eat his meat raw ; third, he speaks very soft ; fourthj 

' Boxing. ^ Chasseurs d'Afrique. 

' A musket. * Infantry aoldier. 



«04 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

he waltzes so light, so light 1 fifth, he never grumbles in hig 
throat like an angry bear ; sixth, there is no fog in him. 
How can he be English with all that ? * 

* There are English, and English,' said the philosophic 
Tata, who piqued himself on being serenely cosmopolitan. 

Cigarette blew a contemptuous puff of smoke. 

' There was never one yet that did not growl ! Pauvres 
diahles I If they don't use their tusks, they sit and sulk I — an 
Englishman is always boxing or grumbling — the two make 
up his life.' 

Which view of Anglo-rabies she had derived from a pro- 
found study of various vaudevilles, in which the traditional 
God-damn was pre-eminent in his usual hues ; and having 
delivered it, she sprang down from her wall, strapped on her 
little barilletf^ nodded to her gros beb^s, where they lounged 
full length in the shadow of the stone wall, and left them to 
resume their game at Boc, while she started on her way, as 
Bwift and as light as a chamois, singing, with gay ringing 
emphasis, that echoed all down the hot and silent air, the 
second verso of Beranger : 

' Je fus chere a tou3 no3 h^ros ; 
H^las ! combien j'en pleure! 
Aussi soldats et g^neraux 

Me comblaient, k toute heiire, 
D'amour, de gloire et de butin, 
Tintin, tintin, tintin, r'lin tintin, 
D'amour, de gloire et de butin : 
Soldats, voiU Catin I ' 

The song was not altogether her song, however, for she had 
wept for none — wept not at all : she had never shed tears 
in her life. A dashing, dauntless, vivacious life, just in its 
youth, loving plunder, and mischief, and mirth ; caring for 
nothing, and always ready with a laugh, a song, a slang 
repartee, or a shot from the dainty pistols thrust in her sash, 
that a general of division had given her, whichever best suited 
tho moment. 

Her mother a camp-follower, her father nobody knew who, 
a spoilt child of the Army from her birth, with a heart aa 
bronzed as her cheek, and her respect for the laws of meum 
and tuum nil, yet with odd stray, nature-sown instincts here 

> Lilile barrel. 



•L'AMIE DU DRAPE AU' 205 

and there, of a devil-may-care nobility, and of a wild grace 
that nothiiig could kill — Cigarette was the pet^jtheLArmy of 
Africa, and was as lawless as most of her patrons. 

She would eat a succulent duck, thinking it all the spicier 
because it had been a soldier's * loot ; ' she would wear the 
gold plunder off dead Arabs' dress, and never have a pang 
of conscience with it ; she would dance all night long, w^ien 
she had a chance, like a little Bacchante ; she would shoot a 
man, if need be, with all the nonchalance in the world. She 
had had a thousand lovers, from handsome marquesses of the 
Guides to tawny black-browed scoundrels in the Zouaves, and 
she had never loved anything, except the roll of the jpas de 
charge, and the sight of her own arch defiant face, with its _ 
scarlet lips and its short jetty hair, when she saw it by' 
chance in some burnished cuirass, that served her for a mirror, i 
She was more like a handsome saucy boy than anything else j 
under the sun, and yet there" was~tHat In the pretty, impudent \ 
little Friend of the Flag that was feminine with it all — ' 
generous and graceful amid all her boldness and her licence, 
her revelries, and the unsettled life she led in the barracks 
and the camps, under the shadow of the eagles. 

Away she went, now singing — 

• Mais je ris en sage, 

Bon I 
La farira dondaine, 

Gai! 
La farira dond^e I ' 

down the crooked windings and over the ruined gardens of 
the old Moorish quarter of the Cashbah, the hilts of the tiny 
pistols glancing in the sun, and the fierce fire of the burning 
sunlight pouring down unheeded on the brave bright hawk 
eyes that had never, since they first opened to the world, 
diooped or dimmed for the rays of the sun, or the gaze of a 
lover, for the menace of death, or the presence of war. 

Of course, she was a little Amazon ; of course, she was a \ 
little Guerilla ; of course, she did not know what a blush \ 
meant ; of course, her thoughts were as slang and as riotous as | 
her mutinous mischief was in its act ; but she was * bon j 
soldat,' as she was given to say, with a toss of her curly / 
head, and she had some of the virtues of soldiers. Soldiers 
had been about her ever since she first remembered having a 



2o6 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

wooden casserole for a cradle, and sucking down red wine 
through a pipe-stem. Soldiers had been her books, her 
teachers, her models, her guardians, and, later on, her lovers 
all the days of her life. She had had no guiding star, except 
the eagles on the standards ; she had had no cradle-song, 
except the rataplan and the r^veil ; she had had no sense 
of duty taught her, except to face fire boldly, never to betray 
a comrade, and to worship but two deities, ' la Gloke ' and 
* la France.' 

Yet there were tales told in the barrack-yards and under 
canvas of the little Aniie du Drapeau that had a gentler side. 
Of how softly she would touch the wounded ; of how deftly 
she would cure them. Of how carelessly she would dash 
through under a raking fire, to take a draught of water to a 
dying man. Of how she had sat by an old Grenadier's death - 
couch, to sing to him, refusing to stir, though it was a fete at 
Chalons, and she loved fetes as only a French girl can. Of 
how she had ridden twenty leagues on a saddleless Arab 
horse, to fetch the surgeon of the Spahis to a Bedouin perish- 
ing in the desert of shot-wounds. Of how she had sent 
every sou of her money to her mother, so long as that mother 
lived — a brutal, drunk, vile-tongucd old woman, who had 
beaten her oftentimes, as the sole maternal attention, when 
she was but an infant. These things were told of Cigarette, 
and with a perfect truth. She was * mauvais sujet, 7nais hon 
soldatf' ^ as she classified herself. Her own_sex would have 
seen no good in her ; but her comrades^^-arms could and did. 
Of a suiety, she missed virtues that women prize; but, not 
less of a surety, Tiad she caught. some that they miss. 

Singing her refrain, on she dashed now, swift as a grey- 
hound, light as a hare, glancing here and glancing there as 
she bounded over the picturesque desolation of the Cashbah. 
It was just noon, and there were few could brave the noon- 
heat as she did. It was very still, there was only from a little 
distance the roll of the French kettle-drums where the 
drummers of the African regiments were practising. * Hoh\ ! 
le v*lh\ ' cried Cigarette to herself, as her falcon eyes darted 
right and left ; and, like a chamois, she leaped down over 
the great masses of Turkish ruins, cleared the channel of a 
dry watercourse, and alighted just in front of a Chasseur 

' A tjQorougb soamp, but a thorough soldier. 



•L'AMIE DU DRAPEAU' 207 

d'AfriqiiG, who was sitting aloiio on a broken fragment of 
white marble, reUc of some Moorish mosque, wboso delicate 
columns, crowned with wind-sown grasses, rose behind him, 
against the deep intense blue of the cloudless sky. 

He was sitting thoughtfully enough, almost wearily, tracing \ 
figures in the dry sand of the soil with the point of his scab- , -j, 
bard ; vet he had all the look about him of a brilliant French' » 
soldier, of one who, moreover, had seen hot and stern service. ^-^ 
He was bronzed, but scarcely looked so after the red, brown, 
and black of the Zouaves and the Turco, for his skin was 
naturally very fair, the features delicate, the eyes very soft — 
for which Monsieur Tata had growled contemptuously, ' a 
woman's face ' — a long silken chestnut beard swept over his 
chest ; and his figure, as he leaned there in the blue and 
scarlet and gold of the Chasseurs' uniform, with his spurred 
heel thrust into the sand, and his arm resting on his knee, 
was, as Cigarette's critical eye told her, the figure of a 
superb cavalry rider, light, supple, long of limb, wide of 
chest, with every sinew and nerve firm -knit as links of steel. ^ 
She glanced at his hands, which were very white, despite J Jw 
the sun of Algiers, and the labours that fall to a private ofj 
Chasseurs. y 

' Beau lion ! ' ^ she thought, ' and noble, whatever he is.' ^ 

But the best of blood was not new to her in the ranks of 
the Algerian regiments. She had known so many of them — 
those gilded butterflies of the (3haussee d'Antin, those lordly 
spendthrifts of the vieille roche, who had served in the bat- 
talions of the demi-cavalerie, or the squadrons of the French 
Horse, to be thrust, nameless and unhonoured, into a sandhole 
hastily dug with the bayonets in the hot hush of an African 
night. 

She woke him unceremoniously from his reverie, with a j 
challenge to wine. 1 

* Ah ! ah ! mon Roumi ! ^ Tata Leroux says you are English ; 
by the faith, he must be right, or you would never sit musing 
there like an owl in the sunlight ! Take a draught of my 
burgundy ; bright as rubies. I never sell bad wines — not I ! 
I know better than to drink them myself.' 

He started and rose ; and before he took the bidon,^ bowed 

' A handsome dandy. ^ Soldier. 

• Little wooden drinking-cup. 



2o8 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

to her, raising his cap with a grave courteous obeisanoe, a 
bow that had used to be noted in throne rooms for its perfec- 
tion of grace. 

* Ah, ma belle, is it you ? ' he said, wearily. You do me 
much honour.' 

Cigarette gave a little petulant twist to the tap of her wine 
barrel. She was not used to that style of salutation. She 
half liked it — half resented it. It made her wush, with an 
impatient scorn for the wish, that she knew how to read, and 
had not her hair cut short like a boy's — a weakness the little 
vivandiere had never been visited with before. 

* Morbleu I ' she said, pettishly. * You are too fine for 
us, mon hrave. In what country, I should wonder, does one 
learn such dainty ceremony as that ? ' 

* Where should one learn courtesies if not in France ? ' he 
answered, wearily. He had danced with this girl-soldier the 
night before at a guinguette ball, seeing her for the first time, 
for it was almost the first time he had been in the city since 
the night when he had thrown the dice, and lost ten napo- 
leons and the Bedouins to Claude de Chanrellon ; but his 
thoughts were far from her in this moment. 

* Ouf ! you have learnt carte and tierce with your tongue 1 ' 
cried Cigarette, provoked to receive no more compliment 
than that. From generals and staff-officers, as from drummers 
and trumpeters, she was accustomed to flattery and wooing, 
luscious as sugared chocolate, and ardent as flirtation, with a 
barrack flavour about it, commonly is. She would, as often as 
not, to be sure, finish it with the butt-end of her pistol, or 
the butt-end of some bit of stinging sarcasm, but still for all 

/ that she liked it, and resented its omission. ' They say you 
are English, but I don't believe it ; you speak too soft, and 
you sound the double L's too well. A Spaniard, eh ? ' 

* Do you find me so devout a Catholic that you think so ? ' 
She laughed. ' A Greek, then ? ' 

* Still worse. Have you seen me cheat at cards ? ' 

* An Austrian ? You waltz like a White Coat ? 
He shook his head. 

She stamped her little foot into the ground — a foot fit for 
a model, with its shapely military boot; spurred, too, for 
Cigarette rode like a circus-rider. 

' Bicasse t ^ Say what you are, then, at once.' 

' Literally ' yojj pnipo 1 ' Equivalent to ' you goose I * 



•L'AMIE DU DRAPEAU' 209 

* A soldier of France. - Can you wish me more ? ' 

For the first time her eyes flashed and softened — her one 
love was the tricolor. 

* True ! ' she said simply. * But you were not always a 
soldier of France? You-.joined,'4hey~say, twelvByear? ago ? 
What were you before then ? ' 

She here cast herself down in front of him, and, with her 
elbows on the sand, and her chin on her hands, watched him 
with all the frank curiosity and unmoved nonchalance imagi- 
nable, as she launched the question point-blank. 

* Before]/ he said slowly. * Well — a fooL' . 

'Xou belonged to the majority, then 1 ' said Cigarette, 
with a piquance made a thousand times more piquant by the 
camp slang she spoke in. * You should not have had to 
come into the ranks, mon ami ; majorities — specially that 
majority — have very smooth sailing generally I ' 

He looked at her more closely, though she wearied him. 

* Where have you got your ironies, Cigarette ? You are 
so young.' 

She shrugged her shoulders. 

* Bah ! one is never young, and always young in camps. ; 
Young ? Pardieu ! When I was four, I could swear like a i 
grenadier, plunder like a prefet, lie like a priest, and drink ' 
like a Bohemian.' 

Yet — with all that — and it was the truth, the brow was so 
open under the close rings of the curls, the skin so clear 
under the sun-tan, the mouth so rich and so arch in its youth l__ 

* Why did you come into the service ? ' she went on, \ 
before he had a chance to answer her. * You were born in [ 
the Noblesse — bah ! I know an aristocrat^at a glance ! Ceux 
qui ont pris la peine de naitre ! *— don't you like Figaro ? My 
men played it last winter, and I was Figaro myself. Now 
many of those aristocrats come — shoals of them ; but it is 
always for something. TEey all come for something ; most 
of them have been ruined by the lionnes, a hundred million of 
francs gone in a quarter I Ah-bah ! what blind bats the best 
of you are ! They have gambled, or bet, or got into hot 
water, or fought too many duels, or caused a court scandal, or 
something — all the aristocrats that come to Africa are ruined. 
What ruined you, Monsieur 1' Aristocrat ? ' __, 

* Those who have given themselves the trouble to be born ! 



210 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

' Aristocrat ? I am none. I am a corporal of the Chas- 
seurs.' 

' Diable I I have known a Duke a Corporal 1 What ruined 
you ? ' 

* What ruins most men, I imagine — folly.* 

* Folly sure enough ! ' retorted Cigarette, with scornful 
acquiescence. She had no patience with him. He danced 
so deliciously, he looked so superb, and he would give her 
nothing but these absent answers. ' Wisdom don't bring 
men who look as you look into the ranks of the volunteers for 
Africa. Besides, you are too handsome to be a sage ! ' 

He laughed a little. 

* I never was one, that's certain. And you are too pretty 
to be a cynic' 

* A what ? ' She did not know the word. * Is that a good 
cigar you have ? Give me one. Do women smoke in your 
old country ? ' 

* Oh, yes — many of them.' 
' Where is it, then ? ' 

* I have no country — now.' 

* But the one you had ? ' 

* I have forgotten I ever had one.* 

* Did it treat you ill, then ? ' 
' Not at all.' 

* Had you anything you cared for in it T * 

* Well— yes.' 

' What was it ? A woman ? ' 

* No — a horse.' 

He stooped his head a little as he said it, and traced more 
figures slowly in the sand. 

'Ahl' 

She drew a short, quick breath. She understood that. 
She would only have laughed at him had it been a woman. 
Cigarette was more veracious than complimentary in her esti- 
mate of her own sex. 

' There was a man in the Cuirassiers I knew,* she went on 
softly, ' loved a horse hke that — he would have died for Cos- 
sack ; but he was a terrible gambler, terrible. Not but what 
I like play myself. Well, one day he played and played till 
he was mad, and everything was gone ; and then in his rage 
he staked the only thing he had left — staked and lost the 
horse I He never said a word ; but he just slipped a pistol in 



•L'AMIE DU DRAPEAU' 2ii 

his pocket, went to the stable, kissed Cossack once — twice — 
thrice — and shot himself through the heart I ' 

' Poor fellow ! ' murmured the Chasseur d'Afrique, in hia 
chestnut beard. 

Cigarette was watching him with all the keenness of her 
falcon eyes. 'He has i gambled away a good deal, too,' sho 
thought. * It is always the same old story with them.' 

'Your cigars are good, mon lion,' she said impatiently, as 
she sprang up, her lithe elastic figure in the bright vivandiere 
uniform standing out in full relief against the pearly grey of 
the ruined pillars, the vivid green of the rank vegetation, and 
the intense light of the noon. * Your cigars are good, but it 
is more than your company is ! Ma cantche ! If you had 
been as dull as this last night, I would not have danced a 
single turn with you in the cancan I * 

And with a bound To which indignation lent wings like a 
swallow's, the Friend of the Flag, insulted and amazed at the 
apathy with which her advances to friendship had been re- 
ceived, dashed off at her topmost speed, singing all the louder 
out of bravado. ' To have nothing more to say to me after 
dancing with me all night I ' thought Cigarette, with fierce 
wrath at such contumely — the first neglect the pet of tLo 
Spahis had ever experienced. 

She was incensed, too, that she had been degraded into that 
momentary wish that she knew how to read, and looked less 
like a boy — just because a Chasseur with white hands and 
silent ways had made her a grave bow 1 She was more in- 
censed still because she could not get at his history, and felt, 
despite herself, a reluctance to bribe him for it with those 
cajoleries whose potency she had boasted to Tata Leroux. 
* Gare d lui I ' * muttered the soldier-coquette, passionately, 
in her little white teeth, so small and so pearly, though they 
had gripped a bridle tight before then, when each hand was 
filled with a pistol. * Gare d kii ! If he offend me there 
are five hundred swords that will thrust civility into him, five 
hundred shots that will teach him the cost of daring to provoke 
Cigarette ! ' 

En route through the town her wayward way took the 
pretty brunette. Friend of the Flag, as many devious meander- 
ings as a bird takes in a summer's day flight, when it stops 

* Let him take care. 

V2 



212 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

here for a berry, there for a grass seed, here to dip its beak 
into cherries, there to dart after a dragon-fly, here to shake its 
wings in a brook, there to poise on a lilybell. 

She loitered in a thousand places, for Cigarette knew every- 
body ; she chatted with a group of Turcos, she emptied her 
barrel for some Zouaves, she ate sweetmeats with a lot of 
negro boys, she boxed a little drummer's ear for slurring over 
the * r'lin tintin ' at his practice, she drank a demi-tasse with 
some officers at a cafe, she had ten minutes' pistol- shooting, 
where she beat hollow a young dandy of the Guides who had 
come to look at Algiers for a week, and made even points 
with one of the first shots of the * Cavalerie a pied,* ^ as the 
Algerian antithesis runs. Finally, she paused before the open 
French window of a snow-white villa, half buried in tamarisk 
and orange and pomegranate, with the deep-hued flowers 
glaring in the sun, and a hedge of wild cactus fencing it in. 
Through the cactus she made her way as easily as a rabbit 
burrows. It would have been an impossibility to Cigarette to 
enter by any ordinary means ; and balancing herself lightly 
on the sill for a second, stood looking in at the chamber. 

* Ho, M. le Marquis ! the Zouaves have drunk all my 
wine up ; fill me my keg with yours for once — the very best 
burgundy, mind. I am half afraid your cellar will hurt my 
reputation.* 

The chamber was very handsome, hung and furnished in 
the very best Paris fashion, and all glittering with amber and 
ormolu and velvets ; in it half a dozen men — officers of the 
cavalry — were sitting over their noon breakfast, and playing 
at lansquenet at the same time. The table was crowded with 
dishes of every sort, and wines of every vintage, and the fra- 
grance of their bouquet, the clouds of smoke, and the heavy 
scent of the orange-blossom without, mingled together in an 
intense perfume. He whom she addressed, M. le Marquis de 
Chateauroy, laughed, and looked up. 

* Ah, is it thee, my pretty brunette ? Take what thou 
wantest out of the ice-pails.' 

' Premier cni ? ' ^ asked Cigarette, with the dubious air 
and caution of a connoisseur. 

* Comet 1 ' said M. le Marquis, amused with the precau- 

* Literally, • Horse-foot ; ' a name given to the Zephyrs and Zouaves 
lor their excessive swiftness of limb. 

* The best growths ? 



•L'AMIE DU DRAPEAU' 213 

tions taken with his cellar, one of the finest in Algiers. 
' Come in and have some breakfast, ma belle* Only pay the 
toll.' 

Where he sat between the window and the table he caught 
her in his arms and drew her pretty face down. Cigarette, 
with the laugh of a saucy child, whisked her cigar out of her 
mouth, and blew a great cloud of smoke in his eyes. She had 
no particular fancy for him, though she had for his wines. 
Shouts of mirth from the other men completed the Marquis's 
discomfiture, as she swayed away from him, and went over to 
the other side of the table, emptying some bottles unceremo- 
niously into her wine-keg — iced, ruby, perfumy claret that 
she could not have bought anywhere for the barracks. 

* Hol^ I ' cried the Marquis, * thou art not generally so coy 
with thy kisses, petite.' , 

Cigarette tossed her head. 

' I don't like bad clarets after good ! I've just been with 
your Corporal, " Bel-^-faire-peur." You are no beauty after 
him, M. le Colonel.' 

Chateauroy's face darkened. He was a colossal-limbed man, 
whose bone was iron, and whose muscles were like oak-fibres. 
He had a dark, keen head like an eagle's ; the brow narrow but 
very high, looking higher because the close-cut hair was worn 
off the temples ; thin lips hidden by heavy curling moustaches, 
and a skin burnt black by long African service. Still he was 
fairly handsome enough not to have muttered so heavy an oath 
as he did at the vivandiere's jest. 

* Sacrebleu 1 I wish my corporal were shot I One can 
never hear the last of him.' 

Cigarette darted a quick glance at him. * Oh ho, jealous, 
mon brave ! ' thought her quick wits. * And why, I 
wonder ? * 

* You haven't a finer soldier in your Chasseurs, mon cher. 
Don't wish him shot, for the good of the service,* said the 
Viscount de Chanrellon, who had now a command of his own 
in the Light Cavalry of Algiers. * Pardieu ! If I had to 
choose whether I'd be backed by *' Bel-f\-faire-peur," or by six 
other men in a skirmish, I'd choose him, and risk the odds.' 

Chateauroy tossed off his burgundy with a contemptuous 
impatience. 

* Diable 1 That ia the galimatias ^ one always hears about 

' Exaggerated nonsense. 



214 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

this fellow — as if he were a second Roland, or a revivified 
Bayard 1 I see nothing particular in him, except that he's too 
fine a gentleman for the ranks.' 

* Fine ? Ah I ' laughed Cigarette. * He made me a bow 
this morning like a court chamberlain ; and his beard is like 
carded silk, and he has such woman's hands, mon Dieu 1 But 
he is a croqiie-mitaine too. 

* Rather ! ' laughed Claude de Chanrellon, as magnificent 
a soldier himself as ever crossed swords. * I said he would 
eat fire the very minute he played that queer game at dice 
with me years ago. I wish I had him instead of you, Cha- 
tcauroy ; hke lightning in a charge ; and yet the very man 
for a dangerous bit of secret service that wants the softness of 
a panther. We all let our tongues go too much, but he says 
BO little — just a word here, a word there — when one's wanted 
— no more ; and he's the devil's own to fight.' 

The Marquis heard the praise of his Corporal, knitting his 
heavy brows. It was evident the private was no favourite with 
him. 

' The fellow rides well enough,' he said, with an affecta- 
tion of carelessness. * There — for what I see — is the end of 
his marvels. I wish you had him, Claude, with all my 
Boul.* 

* Oh h^ 1 * cried Chanrellon, wiping the Rhenish off his 
tawny moustaches, * he should have been a captain by this if 
I had. Morbleu I He is a splendid sabreur — kills as many 
men to his own sword as I could myself, when it comes to a 
hand-in -hand fight ; breaks horses in like magic ; rides theri^ 
like the wind ; has a hawk's eye over open country ; obeys 
like clockwork ; what more can you want ? ' 

1^ ' Obeys I Yes,' said the Colonel of Chasseurs, with a snarl. 
, * He'd obey without a word if you ordered him to walk up 
j to a cannon's mouth, and be blown from it ; but he gives you 

I Buch a d d languid grand seigneur ' glance as he listens that 

I one would think he commanded the regiment.' 
^ * But he's very popular with your men, too ? ' 

* Monsieur, the worst quality a Corporal can have. His 
idea of maintaining discipline is to treat them to cognac and 
give them tobacco.' 

' Pardieu 1 not a bad way either with our French fire- 

W^^ .\^Sf3^\ • Fine gentleman. 



'UAMIE DU DRAPEAU* 215 

eaters. 11 connait son monde, ce braved Your squadrons 
would go to the devil after him.* 

The Colonel gave a grim laugh. 

' I dare say nobody knows the way better.' 

Cigarette, flirting with the other officers, drinking cham- 
pagne by great glassfuls, eating bonbons from one, sipping 
another's soup, pulling the limbs of a succulent ortolan to 
pieces with a reUsh, and devouring truffles with all the zest 
of a bon-\avant, did not lose a word, and catching the inflec- 
tion of Chateauroy's voice, settled with her own thoughts that I 
' Bel"^-f aire-peur ' had not a fair field or a smooth course with 
his Colonel. The weathercock heart of the little * Friend of 
the Flag ' veered round, with her sex's common custom, to 
the side that was the weakest, 

* Dieu de Dieu, M. le Colonel ! ' she cried, while she ate 
M. le Colonel's foie gras with as little ceremony and as much 
enjoyment as would be expected from a young plunderer 
accustomed to think a meal all the better spiced by being-^t 
stolen " by the rules of war.'* * Whatever else your hand- \ 
some Corporal is, he is an aristocrat. Ah, ah, I know the 
aristocrats^rr-I do ! Their touchTs so gentle, and their speech 
is so soft, and they have no slang of the camp, and yet they 
are such diablotins to fight and eat steel, and die laughing all 
so quiet and nonchalant. Give me the aristocrats — the real 
thing, you know. Not the ginger-cakes, just gilt, that are 
ashamed of being honest bread — but the old blood like Bel-^- i^ 
faire-peur.' ~«'' 

The Colonel laughed, but restlessly ; the little ingrate had 
aimed at a sore point in him. He was of the First Empire 
Nobility, and he was weak enough, though a fierce, daunt- 
less, iron-nerved soldier, to be discontented with the great 
fact that his father had been a hero of the Army of Italy, and 
scarce inferior in genius to Massena, because impatient of the 
minor one that, before strapping on a knapsack to have his 
first taste of war under Custine, the Marshal had been but a 
postillion at a posting inn in the heart of the Nivernais. 

' Ah, my brunette 1 ' he answered with a rough laugh, 
* have you taken my popular Corporal for your lover ? You 
should give your old j&'iends warning first, or he may chance 
to get an ugly spit on a sabre.' 

• He knows them he has to deal with—that brave fellow. 



2i6 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

Tho Amie du Drapeau tossed off her sixth glass of cham- 
pagne. She felt for the first time in her life a flush of hot 
blood on her brown clear cheek, well used as she was to such 
jests and such lovers as these. 

' Ma foi ! ' she said coolly. * He would be more likely to 
spit than be spitted if it came to a duel. I should like to 
see him in a duel ; there is not a prettier sight in the world 
when both men have science. As for fighting for me ! Mor- 
bleu I I will thank nobody to have the impudence to do it, 
unless I order them out. Coquehne got shot for me, you 
remember ; — he was a pretty fellow, Coqueline, and they 
killed him so clumsily, that they disfigured him terribly — 
it was quite a pity. I said then I would have no more 
handsome men fight about me. You may, if you like, M. le 
Faucon Noir.' ^ 

Which title she gave with a saucy laugh, hitting with 
a chocolate bonbon the black African-burnt visage of the 
omnipotent chief she had the audacity to attack. High or 
low, they were all the same to Cigarette. She would have 
' slanged ' the Emperor himself with the self-same coolness, 
and the Army had given her a passport of immunity so wide, 
that it would have fared ill with any one who had ever at- 
tempted to bring the vivandiere to book for her uttermost 
loiischief. 

* By-the-way I ' she went on, quick as thought, with her 
reckless devil-may-care gaiety. ' One thing ! — Your Corporal 
■will demoralise the Army of Africa, m'sieu ? ' 

* Eh ? He shall have an ounce of cold lead before he does. 
Whatm?' 

* He will demoralise it,' said Cigarette, with a sagacious 
shake of her head. * If they follow his example we shan't 
have a Chasseur, or a Spahis, or a Piou-piou, or a Sapeur 
worth anything * 

* Sacr6 I What does he do ? ' The Colonel's strong teeth 
bit savagely through his cigar ; he would have given much 
to have been able to find a single thing of insubordination or 
laxity of duty in a soldier who irritated and annoyed him, 
but who obeyed him implicitly, and was one of the most 
brilliant * fire-eaters ' of his regiment. 

* He won't only demoralise the army,' pursued Cigarette, 

> Blaok Hawk. 



*L'AMIE DU DRAPEAU' 217 

\vitli vivacious eloquence, * but if his example is followed, he'll 
ruin the Pr^fets, close the Bureaux, destroy the Exchequer, 
beggar all the officials, make African life as tame as milk and 
water, and rob you, M. le Colonel, of your very highest and 
dearest privilege ! ' 

* Sacrebleu I ' cried her hearers, as their hands instinctively 
Bought their swords, * what does he do ? ' 

Cigarette looked at them out of her arch black lashe?. 

* Why, he never thieves from the Arabs ! If the fashion 
come in, adieu to our occupation. Court-martial him 
Colonel ! ' 

With which sally Cigarette thrust her pretty soft curlg 
back off her temples, and launched herself into lansquenet 
with all the ardour of. a gambler and the vivacity of a child, 
her eyes flashing, her cheeks flushing, her little teeth set, her 
whole soul in the whirl of the game, made all the more riotoua 
by the peals of laughter from her comrades, and the wines 
that were washed down like water. Cigarette was a terrible 
little gamester, and had gaming made very easy to her, for it 
was the creed of the Army that her losses never counted, but 
her gains were paid to her often double or treble. Indeed, 
so well did she play, and so well did the goddess of hazard 
favour her, that she might have grown a millionaire on the 
fruits of her dice and her cards, but for this fact, that what- 
ever the little Friend of the Flag had in her hands one hour, 
was given away the next, to the first wounded soldier, or 
ailing veteran, or needy Arab woman that required the 
charity. 

As much gold was showered on her as on Isabel of the 
Jockey Club ; but Cigarette was never the richer for it. 

* Bah ! ' she would say, when they told her of her heedlessness, 

* money is like a mill, no good standing still. Let it turn, 
turn, turn, as fast as ever it can, and the more bread will 
come from it for the people to eat.* 

The vivandi^re was by instinct a fine political economist. 

Meanwhile where she had left him among the stones of the 
ruined mosque, the Chasseur, whom they nicknamed Bel-^- 
faire-peur, in a double sense, because of his ' woman's face,' 
as Tata Leroux termed it, and because of the terror his sword 
had become through North Africa, sat motionless with his 
right arm resting on his knee, and his spurred heel thrust 
into the sand, the sun shining down unheeded in its fierce 



\ 



2i8 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

burning glare on the chestnut masses of his beard, and the 
bright gHtter of his uniform. 

He was a dashing cavalry soldier, -who had had a dozen 
wounds cut over his body by the Bedouin swords, in many 
and hot skirmishes ; who had waited through sultry African 
nights for the lion's tread, and had fought the desert-king and 
conquered ; who had ridden a thousand miles over the great 
sand waste, and the boundless arid plains, and slept under the 
stars with the saddle beneath his head, and his rifle in his 
hand, all through the night ; who had served, and served well, 
in fierce, arduous, unremitting work, in trying campaigns and 
in close discipline ; who had blent the verve^ the brilliance, 
the daring, the eat-drink-and-enjoy-for-to-morrow-we-die of 
the French Chasseur, with something that was very different, 
and much more tranquil. 

Yet, though as bold a man as any enrolled in the French 
Service, he sat alone here in the shadow of the column, 
thoughtful, motionless, lost in silence. 

In his left hand was Q>Galignani, six months old, and hia 
eyes rested on a line in the obituary : 

* On the 10th ult., at Royallieu, suddenly, the Right Hon. 
Denzil, Viscount Royallieu ; aged 90.' 



CHAPTER XVI 

CIGARETTE EN BACCHANTE 

Vanitas vanitatum I The dust of death lies over the fallen 
altars of Bubastis, where once all Egypt came down the floo4 
of glowing Nile, and Herodotus mused under the shadowy 
foliage, looking on the lake-like rings of water. The Temple 
of the Sun, where the beauty of Asenath beguiled the 
Israelite to forget his sale into bondage and banishment, lies 
in shapeless hillocks, over which canter the mules of drago- 
men and chatter the tongues of tourists. Where the Lutetian 
Palace of Julian saw the Legions rush, with torches and with 
wine-bowls, to salute their darling as Augustus, the sledge- 
hammer and the stucco of the Haussmann fiat bear desolation 
in their wake. Levr-ntine dice are rattled, where Hypatia'a 



CIGARETTE EN BACCHANTE 219 

voice was heard. Bills of exchange are trafficked in, wliere 
Cleopatra wandered under the palm aisles of her rose gardens. 
Drummers roll their caserne-calls, where Drusus fell and Sulia 
laid down dominion. 

And here — in the land of Hannibal, in the conquest of 
Scipio, in the Phoenicia, whose lovehness used to flash in the 
burning, sea-mirrored sun, while her fleets went eastward and 
westward for the honey of Athens and the gold of Bpain— - 
here Cigarette danced the cancan I 

An auberge^ of the harrUre swung its sign of the As de 
Pique where feathery palms once had waved above mosques 
of snowy gleam, with marble domes and jewelled arabesques, 
and the hush of prayer under columned aisles. * Debits de 
vin, liqueurs et tabac'"^ was written, where once verses of the 
Koran had been blazoned by reverent hands along porphyry 
cornices and capitals of jasper. A Cafe Chantant reared its 
impudent little roof where once, far back in the dead cycles, 
Phoenician warriors had watched the galleys of the gold- 
haired favourite of the gods bear down to smite her against 
whom the one unpardonable sin of rivalry to Konie v/as 
quoted. 

The riot of a Paris guinguette was heard where once the 
tent of Belisarius might have been spread above the majestic 
head that towered in youth above the tempestuous seas of 
Gothic armies, as when, silvered with age, it rose as a rock 
against the onsweeping flood of Bulgarian hordes. The 
grisette charms of little tobacconists, milliners, flower-girls, 
lemonade-sellers, bonbon-sellers, and filles de joie flaunted 
themselves in the gaslight, where the lustrous sorceress eyes 
of Antonina might have glanced over the Afric Sea, while her 
wanton's heart, so strangely filled with leonine courage and 
shameless licence, heroism and brutahty, cruelty and self- 
devotion, swelled under the purples of her dehcate vest, at 
the glory of the man she at once dishonoured and adored. 

Vamtaa vanitatum ! Under the thirsty soil, under the ill- 
paved streets, under the arid turf, the Legions lay dead, with 
the Carthaginians they had borne down under the mighty 
pressure of their phalanx ; and the Byzantine ranks were 
dust side by side with the soldiers of Gelimer. And here, 

' Little hostelry. 

' Here are sold wine, liqn<?r and tobacco. 



120 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

above the graves of two thousand centuries, the little light 
feet of Cigarette danced joyously in that triumph of the 
Living, who never remember that they also are dancing 
onward to the tomb. 

It was a low-roofed, white-plastered, gaudily-decked, smoke- 
dried mimicry of the guinguettes beyond Paris. The long 
room, that was an imitation of the Salle de Mars on a Lilli- 
putian scale, had some bunches of lights flaring here and 
there, and had its walls adorned with laurel wreaths, stripes 
of tricolored paint, vividly coloured medallions of the Second 
Empire, and a little pink gauze flourished about it, that 
flashed into brightness under the jets of flame — trumpery, yet 
trumpery which, thanks to the instinct of the French esprit, 
harmonised, and did not vulgarise ; a gift French instinct 
alone possesses. The floor was bare and well polished ; the 
air, full of tobacco smoke, wine fumes, brandy odours, and an 
overpowering scent of oil, garlic, and pot au feu. Riotous 
music pealed through it, that even in its clamour kept a 
certain silvery ring, a certain rhythmical cadence. Pipes were 
smoked, barrack-slang, camp-slang, barri^re-slang, temple- 
slang, were chattered volubly. Theresa's songs were sung by 
bright-eyed, sallow- cheeked Parisiennes, and chorused by the 
lusty lungs of Zouaves and Turcos. Good humour prevailed, 
though of a wild sort ; the mad gallop of the Rigolboche had 
just flown round the room, like lightning, to the crash and the 
tumult of the most headlong music that ever set spurred heels 
stamping and grisettes' heels flying; and now, where the 
crowds of soldiers and women stood back to leave her a clear 
place. Cigarette was dancing alone. 

She had danced the cancan ; she had danced since sunset ; 
she had danced till she had tired out cavalrymen, w^ho could 
go days and nights in the saddle without a sense of fatigue, 
and made Spahis cry quarter, who never gave it by any 
chance in the battlefield ; and she was dancing now like a 
little Bacchante, as fresh as if she had just sprung up from 
a long summer day's rest. Dancing as she would dance only 
now and then, when caprice took her, and her wayward 
vivacity was at its height, on the green space before a tent 
full of general ofiicers, on the bare floor of a barrack-room, 
under the canvas of a fete-day's booth, 6r as here, in the 
music-hall of a caf6. 

Marshals had more than once essayed to bribe the famous 



CIGARETTE EN BACCHANTE 221 

little Friend of the Flag to dance for them, and had failed ; 
but, for a set of soldiers, war-worn, dust covered, weary with 
toil and stiff with wounds, she would do it, till they forgot 
their ills, and got as intoxicated with it as with champagne. 
For her gros bebSs, if they were really in want of it, she 
would do anything. She would flout a star-covered general, 
box the ears of a brilUant aid, send killing missiles of slang 
at a dandy of a regiment de famille, and refuse point-blank a 
Russian grand duke ; but to * mes enfants,' as she was given 
to calling the rough tigers and grizzly veterans of the Army of 
Africa, Cigarette was never capricious, however mischievously 
she would rally, or contemptuously would rate them, when 
they deserved it. 

And she was dancing for them now. 

Her soft short curls all fluttering, her cheeks all bright 
with a scarlet flush, her eyes as black as night, and full of 
fire, her gay little uniform, with its scarlet and purple, making 
her look like a fuchsia-bell tossed by the wind to and fro, 
ever so lightly, on its delicate swaying stem, Cigarette danced 
with the wild grace of an Almeh, of a Bayadere, of a Nautch 
girl, as untutored and instinctive in her as its song to a birf 
as its swiftness to a chamois. To see Cigarette was liSe 
drinking light fiery wines, whose intoxication was gay as 
mischief, and sparkling as themselves. All the warmth of 
Africa, all the wit of France, all the bohemiam5m of the 
Flagi. all the caprices of her sex, were in that bewitching 
dancing. Flashing, fluttering, circling, whirling, glancing, ; 
like a sabre's gleam, tossing like a flower's head, bounding 
like an antelope, launching like an arrow, darting like a 
falcon, skimming like a swallow ; then for an instant resting 
as indolently, as languidly, as voluptuously, as a water-lily 
rests on the water's breast — Cigarette e?t Bacchante no man \ 
could resist. ^.^ 

When once she abandoned herself to the afflatus of that 
dance delirium, she did with her beholders what she would. 
The famous Cachucha, that made the reverend cardinals of 
Spain fling off their pontifical vestments, and surrender them- 
selves to the witchery of the castanets and the gleam of the 
white twinkling feet, was never more irresistible, more en- 
chanting, more full of wild, soft, bizarre, delicious grace. It 
was a poem of motion and colour, an ode to Venus and Bacchus. 

All her heart was in it — that heart of a girl and a soldier, 



222 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

of a hawk and a kitten, of a Bohemian and an epicurean, of a 
Lascar and a child, which beat so brightly and so boldly under 
the dainty gold aiglettea with which she laced her dashing 
little uniform. 

Li the Chambree of Zephyrs, among the Douars of Spahis, 
on sandy soil under African stars, above the heaped plunder 
brought in from a razzia, in the yellow light of candles fastened 
to bayonets stuck in the earth at a bivouac, on the broad deal 
table of a barrack-room full of black-browed conscrits indi- 
genes,^ amid the thundering echoes of the Marseillaise des 
Bataillons shouted from the brawny chests of Zouaves, Ciga- 
rette had danced, danced, danced, till her whole vivacious life 
seemed pressed into one hour, and all the mirth and mischief 
of her little brigand's soul seemed to have found their utter- 
ance in those tiny, slender, spurred, and restless feet, that 
never looked to touch the earth which they lit on hghtly as a 
bird alights, only to leave it afresh, with wider, swifter bound, 
with ceaseless airy flight. 

So she danced now, in the cabaret of the As de Pique. 

She had a famous group of spectators, not one of whom knew 

how to hold himself back from springing in to seize her m 

his arms, and whirl with her down the floor. But it had 

been often told them by experience, that, unless she beckoned 

one out, a blow of her clinched hand and a cessation of her 

impromptu jpas seul would be the immediate result. Her 

spectators were renowned croque-mitaines ; men, whose names 

rang like trumpets in the ear of Kabyle and Marabout ; men 

( who had fought under the noble colours of the day of Maza- 

\gran, or had cherished or emulated its traditions ; men who 

ihad the salient features of all the varied species that make up 

(the soldiers of Africa. " / i\ fi-r^. > r '•• ■v^ ■^ < ^ '•^' ~ I h v '\ Vn t 

\iy \ There was Ben Arslan, with his crimson turnous wrapped 

^ .v^ound~"His towering stature, from whom Moor and Jew fled, 

^'i as before a pestilence, the fiercest, deadliest, most voluptuous 

^ of all the Spahis ; ^ brutalised in his drink, merciless in his 

'^ loves ; all an Arab when once back in the desert, with a blow 

of a scabbard his only payment for forage, and a thrust of 

his sabre his only apology to husbands, but to the service a 

slave, and in the combat a lion. 

There was Beau -Bruno, a dandy of Turcos,^ whose snowy 

' Conscripts drawn from the native population. 
f^ ^ Arab cavalry. ' Native infantry. 









CIGARETTE EN BACCHANTE 223 

turban and olive beauty bewitched half the women of Algeria, 
who himself affected to neglect his conquests, with a supreme 
contempt for those indulgences, but who would have been 
led out and shot rather than forego the personal adornings, 
for which his adjutant and his capitaine du bureau growled 
unceasing wrath at him with every day that shone. 

There was Pouffer-de-Rire, a little Tringlo,^ the wittiest, v^ 
gayest, happiest, sunniest- tempered droll in all the army, who 
would sing the camp-songs so joyously through a burning 
march, that the whole of the battalions would break into one 
refrain as with one throat, and press on laughing, shouting, 
running, heedless of thirst, or heat, or famine, and as full of 
monkey-like jests as any gamins. 

There was En-ta-naboull,^ so nicknamed from his love for ,y 
that unceremonious slang phrase — a Zouave who had the his- 
tory of a Gil Bias, and the talent of a Crichton, the morals of 
an Abruzzi brigand, and the wit of a Falstaff : aquiline-nosed, 
eagle-eyed, black-skinned as an African, with adventures 
enough in his life to outvie Munchausen, with a purse always 
pleine de vide,^ as the camp sentence runs ; who thrust his 
men through the body as coolly as others kill wasps ; who 
roasted a shepherd over a camp-fire for contumacy in conceal- 
ing Bedouin whereabouts ; yet who would pawn his last shirt 
at the bazaar to help a comrade in debt, and had once substi- 
tuted himself for, and received fifty blows on the loins in the 
stead of, his sworn friend, whom he loved with that love of 
David for Jonathan, which, in Caserne life, is readier found 
than in Club life. 

There was Pattes-du-Tigre, a small wiry supple-limbed fire- y 
eater, with a skin like a coal and eyes that sparkled like the 
live coal's flame, a veteran of the Joyeux, who could discipline 
his roughs as a sheep-dog his lambs, and who had one curt 
martial law for his detachment, brief as Draco's, and trimmed 
to suit either an attack on the enemy or the chastisement of 
an indiscipline,'^ lyiiig in one simple word — * Fusillez.' ^ 

There was Barbe-Grise, a grizzly ancien ^ of Zephyrs, who 
held the highest repute of' any in his battalion for rushing on 
to a foe with a foot-speed that could equal the canter of an 
Arab's horse ; for having stood alone once the brunt of thirty 

' Soldier of the commissariat and of the baggage-trains. 

' Est-ce que tu eg fou ? in ordinary French. ' Penniless. 

* A mutineer. ' Fire 1 « Veteran. 



224 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

Bedouins' attack, and ended by beating them back, though a 

dozen spearheads were launched into his body, and his panta- 

Ions garance were filled with his own blood ; and for framing 

a matchless system of night plunder that swept the counti^y 

bare as a table-rock in an hour, and made the colons surrender 

every hidden treasure, from a pot of gold to a hen's eggs, from 

a cauldron of couscoussou to a tom-cat. 

^ There was Alcide Echauftourees, also a Zephyr,^ who had 

his nickname from the marvellous changes of costume with 

-r- which he would pursue his erratic expedition, and deceive 

!^ the very Arabs themselves into believing him a born Mussul- 

\v man ; a very handsome fellow, the Lauzun of his battalion, 

^ the Brummel of his Caserne ; coquette with his kepi on one 

^ side of his graceful head, and his moustaches soft as a lady's 

^ hair, whose paradise was a score of dangerous intrigues, and 

^ whose seventh heaven was a duel with an infuriated husband ; 

incorrigibly lazy, but with the Itahan laziness, as of the 

panther who sleeps in the sun, and with such episodes of 

romance, mischief, love, and devilry in his twenty-five years 

of existence as would leave behind them all the invention of 

Dumas, pere oufils. 

All these and many more like them were the spectators of 
Cigarette's ballet, applauding with the wild hurrah of the 
desert, with the clashing of spurs, with the thunder of feet, 
with the demoniac shrieks of irrepressible adoration and 
delight. 

And every now and then her bright eyes would flash over 
the ring of familiar faces, and glance from them with an im- 
patient disappointment as she danced ; her gros heh&s were 
not enough for her. She wanted a Chasseur with white hands 
and a grave smile to be among them ; and she shook back her 
curls, and flushed angrily as she noted his absence, and went 
on with the pirouettes, the circling flights, the wild resistless 
abandonment of her inspirations, till she was like a little 
desert-hawk that is intoxicated with the scent of prey borne 
down upon the wind, and wheeling like a mad thing in the 
transparent ether and the hot sun-glow. 

L'As de Pique was the especial estaminet of the cJiasse- 
marais. He was in the house ; she knew it ; had she not 
Been him drinking with some others, or rather paying for all, 

' Zephyr is a name given to the 'Battalion of the Rebellius' ia 
Algeria. 



CIGARETTE EN BACCHANTE 225 

but taking little himself, just as she entered ? He was in the 
house, this mysterious Bel-^-faire-peur — and was not here to 
see her dance ! Not here to see the darhng of the Douars ; 
the pride of every Chacal, Zephyr, and Chasseur in Africa ; 
the Amie du Drapeau who was adored by every one, from 
Chefs do Bataillon to fantassms, and toasted by every drinker, 
from Algiers to Oran, in the Champagne of Messrs. les Gene- 
raux as in the Oric of the Loustics round a camp-fire ! 

He was not there ; he was leaning over the little wooden 
ledge of a narrow window in an inner room, from which one 
by one some Spahis and some troopers of his own tribu,^ with 
whom he had just been drinking such burgundies andbrandiea 
as the place could give, had sloped away one by one under the 
irresistible attraction of the vivandiere. An attraction, how- 
ever, that had not seduced them till all the bottles were 
emptied, bottles more in number and higher in cost than wag 
prudent in a corporal who had but his pay, and that scant 
enough to keep himself, and who had known what it was to 
find a roll of white bread and a cup of coffee a luxury beyond 
all reach, and to have to f aire la lessive ^ up to the last thing 
in his haversack to buy a toss of thin wme when he was dying 
of thirst, or a slice of melon when he was parching with 
African fever. 

But prudence had at no time been his specialty, and the" 
reckless life of Algeria was not one to teach it, with its frank 
brotherly fellowship that bound the soldiers of each battalion, 
or each squadron, so closely in a fraternity of which every 
member took as freely as he gave ; its gay, careless carpepj^y*'^ 
diem camp-philosophy, the unconscious philosophy of men' ' fxQ^" 
who enjoyed heart and soul if they had a chance, because ^^ 
they knew they might be shot dead before another day broke ; '''^" 
and its swift and vivid changes that made tirailleurs and 
troopers one hour rich as a king in loot, in wine, in dark- 
eyed captives at the sacking of a tribe, to be the next day 
famished, scorched, dragging their weary limbs, or urging y,,!>'^J 
their sinking horses through endless sand and burning heat, 
glad to sell a cartouche, if they dared so break regimental 
orders, or to rifle a henroost if they came near one, to get a 
mouthful of food, changing everything in their haversack for 
a sup of dirty water, and driven to pay with the thrust of a 

* Squadron. ' Sell bis whole effects. 



it 



226 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

sabre for a lock of wretched grass to keep their beasts alive 
through the sickliness of a sirocco. 
^ All these taught no caution to any nature normally without 
it ; and the chief thing that his regiment had loved in him 
whom they named Bel-^-faire-peur from the first day that he 
had bound his red waist-sash about his loins, and the officers 
of the bureau had looked over the new volunteer murmuring 
admiringly in their teeth ' Ce gaillard ira loin I ' ^ had been 
that all he had was given, free as the winds, to any who 
asked or needed. 

The all was slender enough. Unless he live by the in- 
genuity of his own manufactures, or by thieving or intimi- 
dating the people of the country, a French soldier has but 
barren fare and a hard struggle with hunger and poverty ; 
and it was the one murmur against him, when he was lowest 
in the ranks, that he would never follow the fashion, in 
wringing out by force or threat the possessions of the native 
population. The one reproach that made his fellow- /ascars ^ 
impatient and suspicious of him was that he refused any 
share in those rough arguments of blows and lunges with 
which they were accustomed to persuade every victim they 
came nigh to yield them up all such treasures of food, or 
drink, or riches, from sheep's liver and couscoussou, to 
Morocco carpets and skins of brandy and coins hid in the 
&a,nd, that the Arabs might be so unhappy as to own in their 
reach. That the fattest pullet of the poorest Bedouin was as 
sacred to him as the banquet of his own Chef d'Escadron, let 
him be ever so famished after the longest day's march, was an 
eccentricity, and an insult to the usages of the corps, for which 
not even his daring and his popularity could wholly procure 
him pardon. 

But this defect in him was counterbalanced by the lavish- 
ness with which his ddcoinpte^ was lent, given, or spent 
in the very moment of its receipt. If a man of his trihic 
wanted anything, he knew that Bel-^-faire-peur would ofit'er 
his last sou to aid him, or, if money were all gone, would 
sell the last trifle he possessed to the Riz-pain-sels,'' to get 
enough to assist his comrade. It was a virtue wliicli went far 
to vouch for all others in the view of his lawless, onen-handed 

1 • This gallant will do great things 1 ' LnV ^ ^O' 

« Soldiers. « Pay, ' 

* Working- soldiers of the adminietration. . . ) 



CIGARETTE EN BACCHANTE 227 

brethren of the Chambr^e ^ and the Camp, and made them 
forgive him many moments, when the mood of silence and the 
habit of soHtude, not uncommon with him, would otherwise 
have incensed a fraternity with whom * tu fais Suisse / ' ^ ia 
the deadliest charge, and the sentence of excommunication 
against any who dare to provoke it. 

One of those moods was on him now. 

He had had a drinking bout with the men, who had left 
him, and had laughed as gaily and as carelessly, if not as 
riotously, as any of them at the wild mirth, the unbridled 
licence, the amatory recitations, and the Bacchic odes in their 
lawless saim\ that had ushered the night in while his wines 
unlocked the tongues and flowed down the throats of the 
fierce Arab-Spahis and the French cavalry-men. But now he 
leaned out of the pent-up casement, with his arms folded on 
the sill and a short pipe in his teeth, thoughtful and sohtary 
pcf cer the orgie, whose heavy fumes and clouds of smoke still 
hung heavily on the air within. 

The wmdow looked on a little, dull, close courtyard, where 
the yellow leaves of a withered gourd trailed drearily over the 
grey uneven stones. The clamour of the applause and the 
ring of the music from the dancing-hall echoed with a whirling 
din in his ear, and made, in sharper, stranger contrast, the 
quiet of the narrow court with its strip of starry sky above its 
four high w^alls. 

He leaned there musing and grave, hearing little of the 
noise about him ; there was always noise of some sort in the 
clangour and tumult of barrack or bivouac life, and he had 
grown to heed it no more than he heeded the roar of desert 
beasts about him, when he slept in the desert or the hills ; 
but looking dreamily out at the little shadowy square, with 
the sear gourd leaves and the rough misshapen stones. His 
present and his future were neither much brighter than the 
gloomy walled-in den on which he gazed. 

Twelve years before, when he had been ordered into the 
champ de manceuvre ^ for the first time, to see of what mettle 
he was made, the instructor had watched him with amazed 
eyes, muttering to himself, * Tiens ! ce n'est pas un " hleu " — 
ccci I ' ^ What a rider 1 Dieu de Dieu ! He knows more than 

* Sleeping-room in a barrack. * You live alone, or apart. 

* Exercise-ground. 

* ♦ Whew 1 This is no raw recruit— this fellow I ' , 

q2 



228 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

we can teach. He has served before now — served in some 
emperor's picked guard ! ' 

And when he had passed from the exercismg-gromid to the 
campaign, the Army had found in him one of the most 
splendid of its many splendid soldiers ; and in the folios matri- 
cides ^ there was no page of achievements, of exploits, of 
services, of dangers, that showed a more brilliant array of 
military deserts than his. Yet, for many years, he had been 
passed by unnoticed : he had now not even the cross on his 
chest, and he had only slowly and with infinite difficulty 
been promoted so far as he stood now — a Corporal in the 
Chasseurs d'Afrique — a step only just accorded him because 
woands innumerable and distinctions without number in 
countless skirmishes had made it impossible to cast him 
wholly aside any longer, 
f" The cause lay in the implacable enmity of one man — his 
,. i^Chief. 

0" Far-sundered as they were by position, and rarely as they 
could come in actual contact, that merciless weight of ani- 
mosity from the great man to his soldier had laid on the 
other like iron, and clogged him from all advancement. His 
thoughts were of it now. Only to-day, at an inspection, the ac- 
cidentally broken saddle-girth of a boy-conscript had furnished 
pretext for a furious reprimand, a volley of insolent oppro- 
brium hurled at himself, under which he had had to sit mute 
in his saddle, with no other sign that he was human beneath 
tlio outrage than the blood that would, despite himself, flush 
the pale bronze of his forehead. His thoughts were on it now. 
' There are many losses that are bitter enough,' he mused ; 
' but there is not one so bitter as the loss of the right to 
resent ! ' 

A whirlwind of laughter, so loud that it drowned the musio 

of the shrill violins and thundering drums, echoed through 

^ the rooms and shook him from his reverie. 

y jy 'They are hons enfants,' he thought, with a half smile, as 

-^/he listened; * they are more honest in their mirth, as in their 

(v , wrath, than we ever were in that old world of mine.' 

■ ^"^ Amid the shouts, the crash, the tumult, the gay ringing 

voice of Cigarette rose distinct. She had apparently paused 

in her dancing to exchange one of those passes of arms which 



^ 






Paily register of the troopers' conduct. 






CIGARETTE EN BACCHANTE 229 

were her specialty, in the Sabir that she, a child of the 
regiments of Africa, had known as her mother tongue. 

* II fait Suisse ? ' she cried, disdainfully. ' Paf! et tu 
as hit de sa gourde, chena,pan ? ' ^ 

The grumbled assent of the accused Tvas inaudible. 

' Ingrat ! ' pursued the scornful, triumphant voice of the 
vivandiere ; *you would bazarder^ your mother's grave- 
clothes ! You would eat your children, en fricassde ! You 
would sell your father's bones for a draught of tord-hoyaud /' 
Va VcUy chien I ' 

The screams of mirth redoubled ; Cigarette's style of wither- 
ing eloquence was suited to all her auditors' tastes, and, under 
the chorus of laughs at his cost, her infuriated adversary 
plucked up courage and roared forth a defiance. 

' Ma cantche ! white hands and a brunette's face are fine 
things for a soldier. He kills women — he kills women with 
his lady's grace ! Grand' clwse ca I ' 

* He does not pull their ears to make them give him their 
style,^ and beat them with a matraqiie * if they don't fry hi3 
eggs fast enough, as you do, Barbe-Grise,' retorted the con- 
temptuous tones of the champion of the absent. * White 
hands, morbleu ! Well, his hands are not always in other 
people's pockets as yours are, sacripajit ! ' 

This forcible tuquoque recrimination is in high relish in the 
Caserne ; the screams of mirth redoubled. Barbe-Grise wag 
a redoubtable authority vrhom the wildest daredevil in his 
brigade dared not contradict, and he was gettmg the worst of 
it under the lash of Cigarette's tongue, to the infinite glee of 
the whole ball-room. 

* Damn ! — his hands cannot work as mine can I ' growled 
her opponent. 

*0h, hoi' cried the little lady, with supreme disdain; 
* they don't twist cocks' throats and skin rabbits they have 
thieved, perhaps like yours, but they would wring your neck 
before breakfast to get an appetite, if they could touch such 
canaille.* 

* Canaille ?* thundered the insulted Barbe-Grise; * Ma 
cantche t — if you were but a man I ' 

' You call him a misanthrope ? and you have been drinking at his 
expense, you rascal ? 
' Pawn. • Brandy. 

* Money. » Stick. 



230 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

* What would you do to me, brigand ? ' screamed Cigarette, 
in fits of laughter ; * give me fifty blows of a matraquey as 
your officers gave you last week for stealing his jambon ^ from 
the hlanc hec ? ' ^ 

A growl like a lion from the badgered Barbe-Grise shook 
the walls. She had cast her mischievous stroke at him on a 
very sore point ; the unhappy young conscript's rifle having 
been first dexterously thieved from him, and then as dexterously 
sold to an Arab. 

* Sacrebleu ! ' he roared ; ' you are in love, au grand galojJ, 
with this Vainqueur des belles ^ — this loustic aristocrat ! ' * 

The only answer to this unbearable insult was a louder 
tumult of laughter ; a crash, a splash, and a volley of oaths 
from Barbe-Grise. Cigarette had launched a bottle of \in 
ordinaire at him, blinded his eyes, and drenched his beard 
with the red torrent and the shower of glass shivers, and was 
back again dancing like a little Bacchante, and singing at the 
top of her sweet lark-like voice — 

Turcos! Lignavdsl 
Bon Zigs 1 Trufifards I 
Autour des couscoussou, 
Sont tous mes chers zou-zoas I 
Roumia 
Spahis 

Mime les Arbis, 
Joyeux 
Et Bleus, 
Mime les Recrues, 
Ont pour moi 
Quand on boit 
L'air des rois, 
L'air des rois I 
! A mon cceur le chemin 
1 N'est qu' par le vin I 
j Le bidon qu'on savoure 
' Est le titre k m'amour I 

With which doggerel declaration of her own mercenary and 
cosmopolitan sentiments chanted in Sabir slang, the little 
Friend of the Flag resumed her wildest bounds and her most 
airy fantasias. At the sound of the animated altercation, not 
knowing but what one of his own troopers might be the de- 
linquent, he who leaned out of the little casement moved 

' Gun. i- r> ,v>rv . ) 2 Newly joined soldier. 

* Conqueror of woman. * Soldier-fine gentleman. 



CIGARETTE EN BACCHANTE 231 

forward to the doorway of the dancing-room ; he did not guesa 
that it was himself whom she had defended against the on- 
slaught of the Zephyr, Barbe-Grise. 

His height rose far above the French soldiers, and above 
most even of the lofty- statured Spahis, and her rapid glance 
flashed over him at once. ' Did he hear ? * she wondered. 
The scarlet flush of exercise and excitement deepened on her 
clear brown cheek, that had never blushed at the coarsest 
jests or the broadest love- words of the barrack life that had 
been about her ever since her eyes first opened in their infancy 
to laugh at the sun-gleam on a cuirassier's corslet among the 
baggage-waggons that her mother followed. She thought he 
had not heard ; his face was grave, a little weary, and his 
gaze, as it fell on her, was abstracted. 

' Oh-he I Beau Boumi I ' thought Cigarette, with a flash of 
hot wrath superseding her momentary and most rare embar- 
rassment. * You are looldng at me and not thinking of me ? 
We will soon change that I ' 

Such an insult she had never been subjected to, from the 
first day when she had danced for sweetmeats on the top of a 
great drum when she was three years old, in the middle of a 
circular camp of Tirailleurs. It sent fresh nerve into her 
lithe limbs, it made her eyes flash like so much fire, it gave 
her a millionfold more grace, more abandon, more heedless- 
ness, more piqued and reckless cUsinvolture, She stamped 
her tiny spurred foot petulantly. 

* Plus vUe I Plus vite /' ^ she cried; and as the musician 
obeyed her, she whirled, she spun, she bounded, she seemed 
to live in air, while her soft curls blew off her brow, and her 
white teeth glanced, and her cheeks glowed with a carmine 
glow, and the little gold aiglettes broke across her chest with 
the beating of her heart that throbbed like a bird's heart when 
it is wild with the first breath of Spring. 

She had pitted herself against him ; and she won— so 
far. 

The vivacity, the impetuosity, the antelope elegance, the 
voluptuous repose that now and then broke the ceaseless, 
sparkling movement of her dancing, caught his eyes, and fixed 
them on her ; it was bewitching, and it bewitched him for the 
moment ; he watched her as in other days he had watched 



1 ( 



Quicker ! quicker 1 ' 



232 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

the fantastic witcheries of eastern alme, and the ballet charms 
of opera dancers. 

This young Bohemian of the Barrack danced in the dusky 
glare and the tavern fumes of the As de Pique to a set of 
soldiers in their shirt-sleeves with their short black pipes in 
their mouths, with as matchless a grace as ever the first 
ballerina ^ of Europe danced before sovereigns and dukes on 

I the boards of Paris, Vienna, or London. It was the eastern 
hamhoula of the Harems, to which was added all the elastic 

I joyaunce, all the gay brilliancy of the blood of France. 
Suddenly she lifted both her hands above her head. 

* A moiy Boumis t ' 

It was the signal well known, the signal of permission to 
join in that wild vertigo for which every one of her spectators 
was panting ; their pipes were flung away, their kepis tossed 
off their heads, the music clashed louder and faster, and more 
fiery with every sound, the chorus of the Marseillaise des 
Bataillons thundered from a hundred voices — they danced as 
only men can dance who serve under the French flag and 
live under the African sun. Two, only, still looked on — the 
Chasseur d'Afrique and a veteran of the 10th company, lamed 
for life at Mazagran. 

' En ta mahoull ? Tu ne danses pas — toi ? ' ^ muttered the 
veteran Zephyr to his silent companion. 

The Chasseur turned and smiled a little. 

* I prefer a hamhoula whose music is the cannon, bonpdrc' 

* Bravo 1 Yet she is pretty enough to tempt you ? ' 

* Yes ; too pretty to be unscxed.by~fiuch aLlife.* 
His thoughts went to a woman he had loved well, a young 

Arab, with eyes like the softness of dark waters, who had 
fallen to him once in a razzia as his share of spoil, and for 
whom he had denied himself cards, or wine, or tobacco, or an 
hour at the Cafe, or anything that alleviated the privation 
and severity of his lot as * simjjle soldat,' which he had been 
then, that she might have such few and slender comforts aa 
he could give her from his miserable pay. She was dead. 
Her death had been the darkest passage in his life in Africa 
— but the flute-hke music of her voice seemed to come on his 
ear now. This girl-soldier had little charm for him after the 
Bweet, silent, tender grace of his lost Zelme. 

' Dancing girl. 

* ♦ Are you a stupid ? Don't you dance— eh ? ' 



CIGARETTE EN BACCHANTE ^33 

He turned and touched on the shoulder a Chasseur who 
had paused a moment to get breath m the headlong whh'l : 

* Come, we are to be with the Djied by dawn ! * 

The trooper obeyed instantly ; they were ordered to visit 
and remain with a Bedouin camp some thirty miles away on 
the naked plateau; a camp professedly submissive, but not 
so much so but that the Bureau deemed it well to profit 
themselves by the services of the corporal, whose knowledge 
of Arabic, whose friendship with the tribes, and whose 
superior intelligence in all such missions rendered him 
pecuHarly fitted for errands that required diplomacy and 
address as well as daring and fire. 

He went thoughtfully out of the noisy, reeking ball-room 
into the warm lustre of the Algerian night; as he went, 
Cigarette, who had been nearer than he knew, flashed full 
in his eyes the fury of her own sparkling ones, while with a 
contemptuous laugh she struck him across the lips with the 
cigar she hurled at him. 

' Unsexed ? Pouf 1 If you have a woman's face, may I 
not have a man's soul ? It is only a fair exchange. I am 
no kitten, hon zig ; take care of my talons ! ' 

The words were spoken with the fierceness of Africa ; she 
had too much in her of the spirit of the Zephyrs and the 
Chacals, with whom her youth had been spent from her 
cradle up, not to be dangerous when roused ; she was off at a 
bound, and in the midst of the mad whirl again before he 
could attempt to soften or efface the words she had overheard, 
and the last thing he saw of her was in a cloud of Zouavea 
ftnd Spahis with the wild tintamarre ^ of the music shaking 
riotous echoes from the rafters. 

But when he had passed out of sight, Cigarette shook her- 
self free from the dancers with petulant impatience ; she wag 
not to be allured by flattery or drawn by entreaty back 
amongst them. She set her delicate pearly teeth tight, and 
vowed with a reckless, contemptuous, impetuous oath that 
she was tired, that she was sick of them, that she was no 
strolling player to caper for them with a tambourine, and 
with that declaration made her way out alone into the little 
open court, under the stars, so cool, so still after the heat and 
riot and turbulence within. 

' Uproar. 



134 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

There she dropped on a broad stone step and leant hei? 
head on her hand. 

' Unsexed ! unsexed I What did he mean ? ' she thought, 
while for the first time, with a vague sense of his meaning, 
tears welled hot and bitter into her sunny eyes, while the 
pained colour burned in her face. Those tears were the first 
that she had ever known, and they were cruel ones, though 
they lasted but a Httle time ; there was too much fire in the 
young Bohemian of the Army not to scorch them as they 
rose. She stamped her foot on the stones passionately, and 
her teeth were set like a little terrier's as she muttered : 

* Unsexed ! unsexed I Bah, M'sieu I'Aristocrate I If you 
think so, you shall find your thought right ; you shall find 
Cigarette can hate asmenh^te and take her revenge as 
soldiers take theirs 1 *^^ — -^ 



CHAPTER XVII 

UNDER THE HOUSES OP HAIR 

It was just sunset. 

The far-off summits of the Djurjura were tinted with the 
intense glare the distant pines and cypresses cut sharply 
against the rose-warmed radiance of the sky. On the slopes 
of the hills white cupolas and terraced gardens, where the 
Algerine haouach still showed the taste and luxury of Algerine 
corsairs, rose up among their wild olive shadows on the 
groves of the lentiscus. In the deep gorges that were chan- 
nelled between the riven rocks, the luxuriance of African 
vegetation ran riot, the feathery crests of tossing reeds, the 
long floating leaves of plants, filling the dry watercourses of 
vanished streams ; the broad foliage of the wild fig, and the 
glowing, dainty blossoms of the oleander, wherever a trace 
of brook, or pool, or rivulet let it put forth its beautiful 
coronal, growing one in another in the narrow valleys, and 
the curving passes, wherever broken earth or rock gave 
shelter from the blaze and heat of the North African day. 

Farther inland the bare sear utretcbes of bro^sn plain were 
studded with the dwarf palm ; the vast shadowless plateaux] 



UNDER THE HOUSES OF HAIR 235 

were desolate as the great desert itself far beyond ; and the 
Bun, as it burned on them a moment in the glory of its last 
glow, found them naked and grand by the sheer force of 
immensity and desolation, but dreary and endless, and broken 
into refts and chasms, as though to make fairer by their own 
barren soUtude the laughmg luxuriance of the sea-face of the 
Sahel. 

A moment, and the lustre of the light flung its own magic 
brilliancy over the Algerine water-line, and then shone full 
on the heights of El Biar and Bouzariah, and on the lofty, 
delicate form of the Italian pines that here and there, Sicilian- 
like, threw out their graceful heads against the amber sun- 
glow and the deep azure of the heavens. Then swiftly, 
suddenly, the sun sank ; twilight passed like a grey gliding 
shade, an instant, over earth and sea ; and night, the balmy, 
sultry, star-studded night of Africa, fell over the thirsty 
leafage longing for its dews, the closed flowers that slumbered 
at its touch, the seared and blackened plains to which its 
coolness could bring no herbage, the massive hiils that seemed 
to lie so calmly in its rest. 

Camped on one of the bare stretches above the Mustapha 
Road was a circle of Arab tents ; the circle was irregularly 
kept, and the Kriimas were scattered at will ; here a low one 
of canvas, there one of goatskin ; here a white towering canopy 
of teleze, there a low striped little nest of shelter, and, loftier 
than all, the stately hcit el shar of the Sheik, with his standard 
struck into the earth in fi'ont of it, with its heavy folds hanging 
listlessly in the sultry, breathless air. 

The encampment stretched far over the level arid earth, 
and there was more than one tent where the shadowing 
folds of the banner marked the abode of some noble Djied. 
Disorder reigned supreme, in all the desert freedom ; horses 
and mules, goats and camels, tethered, strayed among the 
conical houses of hair, browsing off the littered straw or the 
tossed- down hay ; and caldrons seethed and hissed over wood 
fires, whose lurid light was flung on the eagle features and 
the white haiks of the wanderers who watched the boiling of 
their mess, or fed the embers with dry sticks. Round other 
fires, having finished the eating of their couscoussou, the 
Bedoums lay full length, enjoying the solemn silence which 
they love so little to break, and smoking their long pipes, 
while through the shadows about them glided the lofty 



«36 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

Mgures of their brethren, with the folds of their sweeping 
burnous floating in the gloom. It was a picture. Rem- 
brandt in colour. Oriental in composition, with the darkness 
Kurroundiug it stretching out into endless distance that led to 
the mystic silence of the great desert, and above the intense 
blue of the gorgeous night, with the stars burning through 
white transparent mists of slowly drifting clouds. 

In the central tent, tall and crimson striped, with its 
mighty standard reared in front, and its opening free to the 
night, sat the Khalifa, the head of the tribe, with a circle of 
Arabs about him. He was thrown on his cushions, rich 
enough for a sera^gho, while the rest squatted on the morocco 
carpet that covered the bare ground, and that was strewn 
with .round brass Moorish trays, and little cups emptied of 
their coffee. The sides of the tent were hung with guns and 
swords, lavishly adorned, and in the middle stood a tall Turkish 
candle-branch in fretted work, whose light struggled with the 
white flood of the moon, and the ruddy, fitful glare from a 
wood fire without. 

Beneath its light, which fell full on him, flung down upon 
another pile of cushions facing the open front of the tent, 
was a guest whom the Khalifa delighted to honour. Only a 
Corporal of Chasseurs, and once a foe, yet one with whom 
the Arab found the brotherhood of brave men, and on whom 
he lavished, in all he could, the hospitalities and honours of 
the desert. 

The story of their friendship ran thus : 

The tribe was now allied with I'rance, or, at least, had 
accepted French sovereignty, and pledged itself to neutrality 
in the hostilities still rife ; but a few years before, far in the 
interior and leagued with the Kabailes, it had been one of the 
fiercest and most dangerous among the enemies of France. 
At that time the lOialifa and the Chasseur met in many a 
skirmish ; hot, desperate struggles, where men fought horse 
to horse, hand to hand ; midnight frays, when, in the heart of 
lonely ravines, Arab ambuscades fell on squadrons of French 
cavalry ; terrible chases through the heat of torrid suns, when 
the glittering ranks of the charging troops swept down after 
the Bedouins' flight ; fiery combats, when the desert sand 
and the smoke of musketry circled in clouds above the close- 
locked struggle, and the Leopard of France and the Lion of 
Sahara wrestled in a death-grip. 



UNDER THE HOUSES OF HAIR 237 

In these, through four or five seasons of warfare, the Sheik 
and the Chasseur had encountered each other, till each had 
grown to look for the other's face as soon as the standards of 
the Bedouu3s flashed m the sunshine opposite the guidons of 
the Imperial forces ; till each had watched and noted the 
other's unmatched prowess, and borne away the wounds of 
the other's home strokes, with the admiration of a bold soldier 
for a bold rival's dauntlessness and skill ; till each had learned 
to long for an hour, hitherto always prevented by waves of 
battle that had swept them too soon asunder, when they should 
meet in a duello once for all, and try their strength together 
till one bore off victory and one succumbed to death. 

At last it came to pass that after a lengthened term of this 
chivalrous antagonism, the tribe were sorely pressed by the 
French troops, and could no longer mass its fearless front to 
face them, but had to flee southward to the desert, and en- 
cumbered by its flocks and its women, was hardly driven and 
greatly decimated. Now among those women was one whom 
the Sheik held above all earthly things except his honour in 
war, a beautiful antelope -eyed creature, lithe and graceful as 
a palm, and the daughter of a pure Arab race, on whom he 
could not endure for any other sight than his own to look, and 
whom he guarded in his tent as the chief pearl of all his trea- 
sures ; herds, flocks, arms, even his horses, all save the honour 
of his tribe, he would have surrendered rather than surrender 
Djelma. It was a passion wdth him ; a passion that not even 
the iron of his temper and the dignity of his austere calm 
could abate or conceal ; and the rumour of it and of the beauty 
of its object reached the French camp, till an impatient 
curiosity was roused about her, and a raid that should bear 
her off became the favourite speculation round the picket fires 
at night, and the scorching noons, when the men lay stripped 
to their waist, panting hke tired dogs under the hot, withering 
breath that stole to them from sweeping over the yellow seas 
of sand. 

Their heated fancies had pictured this treasure of the great 
Djied as something beyond all that her sex had ever given 
them, and to snare her in some unwary moment was the chief 
thought of Zephyr and Spahis when they went out on a 
scouting or foraging party. But it was easier said than done. 
The eyes of no Frank ever fell on her, and when he was most 
closely driven the Khalifa Ilderim abandoned his cattle and 



238 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

sheep, but with the females of the tribe still safely guarded, 
fell more and more backward and southward, drawing the 
French on and on farther and farther across the plains in the 
sickliest times of hottest drought. 

Reinforcements could swell the Imperial ranks as swiftly as 
they were thinned, but with the Arabs a man once fallen was 
a man the less to their numbers for ever, and the lightning- 
like pursuit began to tell terribly on them ; their herds had 
fallen into their pursuers' hands, and famine menaced them. 
Nevertheless, they were fierce in attack as tigers, rapid in 
swoop as vultures, and fought flying in such fashion that the 
cavalry lost more in this fruitless, worthless work than they 
would have done in a second Hohenlinden or Austerlitz. 

Moreover, the heat was intense, water was bad and very 
rare, dysentery came with the scorch and the toil of this end- 
less charge ; the chief in command, M. le Marquis de Chateau- 
roy, swore heavily as he saw many of his best men dropping 
off like sheep in a murrain, and he offered two hundred napo- 
leons to whosoever should bring either the dead Sheik's head 
or the livmg beauty of Djelma. 

One day the Chasseurs had pitched their camp whore a few 
barren, withered trees gave a semblance of shelter, and a little 
thread of brackish water oozed through the yellow earth. 

It was high noon ; the African sun was at its fiercest ; far as 
the eye could reach there was only one boundless, burning, 
unendurable glitter of parching sand, and cloudless sky, brazen 
beneath, brazen above, till the desert and the heavens touched, 
and blent in one tawny fiery glow in the measureless distance. 
The men lay under canvas, dead beat, half naked, without the 
power to do anything except to fight like thirst-maddened 
dogs for a draught at the shallow stream that they and their 
breathless horses soon drained dry. 

Even Raoul de Ch^teauroy, though his frame was like an 
Arab's, and knit into Arab endurance, v/as stretched like a 
great bloodhound, chained by the sultry oppression. He was 
ruthless, inflexible, a tyrant to the core, and sharp and swift 
as steel in his rigour, but he was a fine soldier, and never spared 
himself any of the hardships that his regiment had to endure 
under him. 

Suddenly the noon lethargy of the camp was broken ; a 
trumpet-call rang through the stillness ; against the amber 
transparency of the horizon line the outlines of half a dozen 



UNDER THE HOUSES OF HAIR 239 

horsemen were seen looming nearer and nearer with every 
moment ; they were some Spahis who had been out, * sondant 
le terrain aiix environs.' ^ The mighty frame of Chateauroy, 
almost as unclothed as an athlete, started from its slumberous, 
panting rest ; his eyes lightened hungrily ; he muttered a fiery 
oath ; ♦ Mort de Dieu I— they have the woman 1 ' 

They had the woman. She had been netted near a water- 
spring, to which she had wandered too loosely guarded, and 
too far from the Bedouin encampment. The delight of the 
haughty Sidi's eyes was borne off to the tents of his foes, and 
the Colonel's face flushed darkly with an eager, lustful warmth, 
as he looked upon his captive. Rumour had not outboasted the 
Arab girl's beauty ; it was lustrous as ever was that when, 
far yonder to the eastward, under the curled palms of Nile, 
the sorceress of the Caesars swept through her rose- strewn 
palace -chambers. Only Djelmawas as innocent as the gazelle, 
whose grace she resembled, ^nd loved her lord with a great 
love. 

Of her suffering her captor took no more heed than if she 
were a young bird dying of shot-wounds ; but, with one 
triumphant, admiring glance at her, he wrote a message in 
Arabic, to send to the Khahfa, ere her loss was discovered — a 
message more cruel than iron. He hesitated a second, where 
he lay at the opening of his tent, whom he should send with 
it. His men were almost all half-dead with the sun-blaze. 
His glance chanced to light in the distance on a soldier to 
whom he bore no love — causelessly, but bitterly all the same. 
He had him summoned, and eyed him with a curious amuse- 
ment : Chateauroy treated his squadrons with much the 
same sans-faqon familiarity and brutality that a chief of 
filibusters uses to his. 

• So ! you heed the heat so little, you give up your turn of 
water to a drummer, they say ? ' | 

The Chasseur gave the salute with a calm deference. A 
faint flush passed over the sun-bronze of his forehead. He 
had thought the Sydney-like sacrifice had been unobserved. 

' The drummer was but a child, mon Commandant.' 

' Be so good as to give us no more of those melodramatic 
acts ! * said M. le Marquis, contemptuously. * You are too 
fond of trafficking in these showy fooleries. You bribe your 

* Sweeping the country for food. 



240 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

comrades for their favouritism too openly. Ventre bleu ! I 
forbid it — do you hear ? ' 

* I hear, mon Colonel.' 

The assent was perfectly tranquil and respectful. He was 
too good a soldier not to render perfect obedience, and keep 
perfect silence, under any goad of provocation to break both. 

* Obey, then I ' said Chateauroy, savagely. * Well, since 
you love heat so well, you shall take a flag of truce and my 
scroll to the Sidi Ilderim. But tell me, first, what do you 
think of this capture ? ' 

' It is not my place to give opinions, M. le Colonel.' 

* Pardieu ! it is your place when I bid you. Speak, or I 
will have the matraq^te cut the words out of you ! ' 

' I may speak frankly ? ' 

* Ten thousand curses — yes ! * 

' Then, I think that those who make war on women are no 
longer fit to fight with men.' 

For a moment the long, sinewy, massive form of Chateau- 
roy started from the skins on which he lay at full length, like 
a lion starting from its lair. His veins swelled like black 
cords ; under the mighty muscle of his bare chest his heart 
beat visibly in the fury of his wrath. 

* By God I I have a mind to have you shot like a dog 1 * 
The Chasseur looked at him carelessly, composedly, but 

with a serene deference still, as due from a soldier to his chief. 

* You have threatened it before, M. le Colonel. It may be 
as well to do it, or the army may think you capricious.' 

Raoul de Chateauroy crushed a blasphemous oath through 
his clinched teeth, and laughed a certain short, stern, sardonio 
laugh, which his men dreaded more than his wrath. 

' No ; I will send you instead to the Khalifa. He often 
saves me the trouble of killing my own curs. Take a flag of 
truce and this paper, and never draw rein till you reach him, 
if your beast drop dead at the end.' 

The Chasseur saluted, took the paper, bowed with a certain 
languid easy grace that oamp-hfe never cured him of, and 
went. He knew that the man who should take the news of 
his treasure's loss to the Emir Ilderim would, a thousand to 
one, perish by every torture desert cruelty could frame, despite 
the cover of the white banner. 

Chateauroy looked after him, as he and his horse passed 
from the French camp in the full burning tide of noon. 



UNDER THE HOUSES OF HAIR a^i 

* If the Arabs kill him,* he thought, ' I will forgive Ilderim 
five seasons of rebellion.' 

The Chasseur, as he had been bidden, never drew rein 
across the scorching plateoAi. He rode to what he knew waa 
hke enough to be death, and death by many a torment, as 
though he rode to a midnight love-tryst. His horse was of 
Arab breed — young, fleet, and able to endure extraordinary 
pressure, both of spur and of heat. He swept on, far and 
fast, through the sickly lurid glitter of the day, over the 
loose sand, that flew in puffs around him as the hoofs struck 
it flying right and left. At last, ere he reached the Bedouin 
tents, that were still but slender black points against the 
horizon, he saw the Sheik and a party of horsemen returning 
from a foraging quest, and in ignorance as yet of the abduc- 
tion of Djelma. He galloped straight to them, and halted 
across their line of march, with the folds of the little white 
flag fluttering in the sun. The Bedouins drew bridle, and 
Ilderim advanced alone. He was a magnificent man, of middle 
age, with the noblest t}^e of the eagle-eyed aquiline desert 
beauty. He was a superb specimen of his race, without the 
lean, withered, rapacious vulture look which often mars it. 
His white haik floated round limbs fit for a colossus ; and 
under the snowy folds of his turban the olive-bronze of his 
bold forehead, the sweep of his jet-black beard, and the 
piercmg luminance of his eyes had a grand and kingly majesty. 

A glance of recognition flashed from him on the Lascar, 
who had so often crossed swords with him ; and he waved 
back the scroll with dignified courtesy. 

* Read it me.' 

It was read. Bitterly, blackly, shameful, the few brutal 
words were. They netted him as an eagle is netted in a 
Bhepherd's trap. 

The moment that he gave a sign of advancing against his 
ravishers, the captive's life would pay the penalty ; if he 
merely remained in arms, without direct attack, she would 
be made the Marquis's mistress, and abandoned later to the 
army. The only terms on which he could have her restored 
w-ere instant submission to the imperial rule, and personal 
homage of himself and all his Djouad to the Marquis as the 
representative of France — homage in which they should confess 
themselves dogs and the sons of dogs. 

So ran the message of peace. 



«42 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

The Chasseur read on to the end calmly. Then he lifted 
his gaze, and looked at the Emir — he expected fifty swords 
to be buried in his heart. 

As he gazed, he thought no more of his own doom ; he 
thought only of the revelation before him, of what passion 
and what agony could be — things unknown in th^ world 
where the chief portion of his life had passed. He was a 
war-hardened campaigner, trained in the ruthless school of 
African hostilities, who had seen every shape of mental and 
physical suffering, when men were left to perish of gun- 
wounds, as the rush of the charge swept on ; when writhing 
horses died by the score of famine and of thirst ; when the 
firebrand was hurled among sleeping encampments, and de- 
fenceless women w^ere torn from tbeir rest by the unsparing 
hands of pitiless soldiers. But the torture which shook for a 
second the steel-knit frame of this Arab passed all that he had 
dreamed as possible ; it was mute, and held in bonds of iron, 
for the sake of the desert pride of a great ruler's majesty ; but 
it spoke more than any eloquence ever spoke yet on earth. 

With a wild, shrill yell, the Bedouins whirled their naked 
sabres j^ove their heads, and rushed down on the bearer of 
this shame to their chief and their tribe. The Chasseur did 
not seek to defend himself. He sat motionless. He thought 
the vengeance just. 

The Sheik raised his sword, and signed them back, as he 
pointed to the white folds of the flag. Then his voice rolled 
out like thunder over the stillness of the plains. 

* But that you trust yourself to my honour, I would rend 
you limb from limb. Go back to the tiger who rules you, 
and tell him that — as Allah liveth — I will fall on him and 
smite him as he hath never been smitten. Dead or living, I 
will have back my own. If he take her life, I will have ten 
thousand lives to answer it ; if he deal her dishonour, I will 
light such a holy war through the length and breadth of the 
land that his nation shall be driven backward like choked 
dogs into the sea, and perish from the face of the earth for 
evermore. And this I swear by the Law and the Prophet ! ' 

The menace rolled out, imperious as a monarch's thrilling 
through the desert hush. The Chasseur bent his head, as the 
words closed. His own teeth were tightly clinched, and hia 
face was dark. 

' Emir, listen to on© word,' he said briefly. ' Shame has 



UNDER THE HOUSES OF HAIR 243 

been done to me as to you. Had I been told what words I 
bore, they had never been brought by my hand. You know 
me. You have had the marks of my steel, as I have had the 
marks of yours. Trust me in this, Sidi. I pledge you my 
honour that, before the sun sets, she shall be given back to 
you unharmed, or I will return here myself, and your tribe 
shall slay me in what fashion they will. So alone can she be 
saved uninjured. Answer — will you have faith in me ? ' 

The desert chief looked at him long ; sitting motionless as 
a statue on his stallion, with the fierce gleam of his eyes fixed 
on the eyes of the man who so long had been his foe in con- 
tests whose chivalry equalled their daring. The Chasseur 
never wavered once under the set, piercing, ruthless gaze. 

Then the Emir pointed to the sun, that was now at its 
zenith : 

' You are a great warrior : such men do not lie. Go ; and 
if she be borne to me before the sun is half-way sunk toward 
the west, all the branches of the tribes of Ilderim shall be as 
your brethren, and bend as steel to your bidding. If not — as 
God is mighty— not one man in all your host shall live to tell 
the tale ! ' 

The Chasseur bowed his head to his horse's mane ; then, 
without a word, wheeled round, and sped back across the 
plain. 

When he reached his own cavalry camp, he went straight- 
way to his chief. "What passed between them none ever 
knew. The interview was brief: it was possibly as stormy. 
Pregnant and decisive it assuredly was ; and the squadrons 
of Africa marvelled that the man who dared beard Raoul de 
Chateauroy in his lair came forth with his life. Whatever the 
spell he used, the result was a marvel. 

At the very moment that the s\m touched the lower half of 
the western heavens, the Sheik Ilderim, where he sat in his 
saddle, with all his tribe stretching behind him, full armed, 
to sweep down like falcons on the spoilers, if the hour passed 
with the pledge unredeemed, saw the form of the Chasseur re- 
appear between his sight and the glare of the skies ; nor did 
he ride alone. That night the Pearl of the Desert lay once 
more in the mighty sinuous arm's of the great Emir. 

But, with the dawn, his vengeance fell in terrible fashion 
on the sleeping camp of the Franks ; and from that hour 
dated the passionate, savage, unconcealed hate of Raoul de 

k2 



244 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

Chateauroy to the most daring soldier of all his fiery Horse, 
known in his troop as ' Bel-^-faire-peur.' 

It was in the tent of Ilderim now that he reclined, looking 
outward at the night where flames were leaping ruddily under 
a large caldron, and far beyond was the dark immensity of 
the star-studded sky ; the hght of the moon strayed in and 
fell on the chestnut waves of his beard, out of which the long 
amber stem of an Arab pipe ghttered like a golden line, and 
on the delicate feminine cast of his profile, which, with the 
fairness of the skin — fair despite a warm hue of bronze — and 
the long slumberous softness of the hazel eyes, were in so 
marked a contrast of race with the eagle outlines of the 
Bedouins around. 

From the hour of the restoration of his treasure the Sheik 
had been true to his oath ; his tribe in all its branches had 
held the French lascar in closest brotherhood. Wherever they 
w^ere he was honoured and welcomed ; was he in war, their 
swords were drawn for him ; was he in need, their houses of 
hair were spread for him ; had he want of flight, the swiftest 
and most precious of their horses was at his service ; had he 
thirst, they would have died themselves, wringing out the 
last drop from the waterskin for him. Through him their 
alliance, or more justly to speak, their neutrahty, was secured 
to France, and the Bedouin Chief loved him with a great, 
silent, noble love that was fast rooted in the granite of his 
nature. Between them there was a brotherhood that beat 
down the antagonism of race, and was stronger than the 
instinctive hate of the oppressed for all who came under the 
abhorred standard of the usurpers. He liked the Arabs, and 
they liked him : a grave courtesy, a preference for the fewest 
words and least demonstration possible ; a marked opinion that 
silence was golden, and that speech was at best only silver- 
washed metal ; an instinctive dread of all discovery of emotion, 
and a limitless power of resisting and suppressing suffering, 
were qualities the nomads of the desert and the lion of the 
Chasseurs d'Afrique had in common ; as they had in unison a 
^ild passion for war, a dauntless zest in danger, and a love 
for the hottest heat of fiercest battle. 

Bilence reigned in the tent, beyond whose first division, 
Bcreened by a heavy curtain of goat's-hair, the beautiful young 
Djelma pla3'ed with her only son, a child of three or four 
Bummere ; the Sheik lay mute, the Djouad and Marabouta 



UNDER THE HOUSES OF HAIR 245 

aronnd never spoke in his presence unless their lord bade 
them, and the Chasseur was stretched motionless, his elbow 
resting on a cushion of Morocco fabric, and his eyes looking 
outward at the restless changing movement of the firelit, 
starlit camp. 

After the noise, the mirth, the riotous songs, and the gay 
elastic good humour of his French comrades, the silence and 
the calm of the Emir's * house of hair ' were welcome to 
him. He never spoke much himself: of a truth his gentle 
immutable laconism was the only charge that his Chambree 
ever brought against him. That a man could be so brief in 
words, while yet so soft in manner, seemed a thing out of all 
nature to the vivacious Frenchmen ; that unchanging stillness 
and serenity in one who was such a reckless, resistless croqite- 
mitaine, swift as fire in the field, was an enigma that the 
Cavalerie and the Demi-cavalerie of Algeria never solved. 
His corps would have gone after him to the devil, as Claude 
de Chanrellon had averred ; but they would sometimes wax a 
little impatient that he would never grow communicative or 
thread many phrases together, even over the best wine which 
ever warmed the hearts of its drinkers or loosened all rein 
from their lips. 

* I wish I had come straight to you, Sidi, when I first set 
foot in Africa,' he said at last, while the fragrant smoke un- 
curled from under the droop of his long pendant moustaches. 

' Truly it had been well, ' answered the Khalifa, who 
would have given the best stallions in his stud to have had 
this Frank with him in warfare, and in peace. * There is no 
life like our life.' 

' Faith ! I think not,' murmured the Chasseur, rather to 
himself than the Bedouin. * The desert keeps you and your 
horse, and you can let all the rest of the world '* slide." * 

* But we are murderers and pillagers, say your nations,';, 
resumed the Emir, with the shadow of a sardonic smile flicker-- 
ing an instant over the sternness and composure of his features.'^ 
' To rifle a caravan is a crime, though to steal a continent is > 
glory.' 

Bel-^-faire-peur laughed slightly. 
' Do not tempt me to rebel against my adopted flag.' 
The Sheik looked at him in silence ; the French soldiera 
had spent twelve years in the ceaseless exertions of an amused 
ixiQuisitiveness to discover the antecedents of their volunteer : 



246 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

the Arabs with their loftier instincts of courtesy ha3 neveu 
hinted to him a question of whence or why he had come upon 
African soil. 

* I never thought at all in those days ; else, had I thought 
twice, I should not have gone to your enemies,' he answered 
as he lazily watched the Bedouins without squat on their 
heels round the huge brass bowls of couscoussou, which they 
kneaded into round lumps and pitched between their open 
bearded lips in their customary form of supper. * Not but 
what our Boumis are brave fellows enough ; better comrades 
no man could want.' 

The Khalifa took the long pipe from his mouth and spoke ; 
his slow sonorous accents falling melodiously on the silence 
in the lingua sapir of the Franco- Arab tongue. 
^ * Your comrades are gallant men ; they are lascars kdhirs ^ 
. and fearless foes ; against such my voice is never lifted, how- 
ever my sword may cross with them. But the locust-swarma 

. that devour the land are the money-eaters, the petty despots, 
the bribe-takers, the men who wring gold out of infamy, who 
traffic in tyrannies, who plunder under official seals, who 
curse Algiers with avarice, with fraud, with routine, with 
the hell-spawn of civilisation. It is the "Bureaucratic," as 
your tongue phrases it, that., is the spoiler and the oppressor 
of the soil. But-rrlnshallah !— we endure only for awhile. A 

. little, and the shame of the invader's tread will be washed 

\ put in blood. Allah is great ; we can wait.' 

And with Moslem patience that the fiery gloom of his 
burning eyes belied, the Djied stretched himself once more 
into immovable and silent rest. 

The Chasseur answered nothing; his sympathies were 
heartfelt with the Arabs, his allegiance i and his esprit de corps 
were with the service in which he was enrolled. He could 
not defend French usurpation ; but neither could he condemn 
the Flag that had now become his Flag, and in which he had 
grown to feel much of national honour, to take much of national 
pride. 

* They will never really win again, I am afraid,' he 
thought, as his eyes followed the wraith-like flash of the 
white burnous, as the Bedouins glided to and fro in the 
chiaroscuro of the encampment, now in the flicker of the 

' Great warriors. 



^V"^"^ 



UNDER THE HOUSES OF HAIR 247. 

flame, now in the silvered lustre of the moon. ' It is the con- 
flict of the races, as the cant runs, and their day is done. It 
is a bolder, freer, simpler type than anything we get in the 
world yonder. Shall we ever drift back to it in the future, 
I wonder ? ' 

The speculation did not stay with him long ; Semitic, Latirif ^ 
or Teuton race was very much the same to him, and intel- 
lectual subtleties had not much attraction at any time for the 
most brilliant soldier in the French cavalry. He preferred the 
ring of the trumpets, the glitter of the sun's play along the 
line of steel as his regiment formed in line on the eve of a 
life-and-death struggle, the wild breathless sweep of a mid- 
night gallop over the brown swelling plateau under the light 
of the stars, or — in some brief interval of indolence, and 
razzia-won wealth — the gleam of fair eyes and the flush 
of sparkling sherbet when some passionate darkling glance 
beamed on him from some Arab mistress whose scarlet lips 
murmured to him through the drowsy hush of an Algerine 
night the sense if not the song of Pelagia — 



,yCh> 



r ■■ Life 13 so short at best I 
^ Take while thou canst thy rest, 

Sleeping by me I 



His thoughts drifted back over many varied scenes and 
changing memories of his service in Algiers, as he lay there at 
the entrance of the Sheik's tent, with the night of looming 
shadow, and reddened firelight, and picturesque movement 
before him. Hours of reckless headlong delight, when men 
grew drunk with bloodshed as with wine ; hours of horrible 
unsuccoured suffering, when the desert thirst had burned in his 
throat, and the jagged lances been broken off at the hilt in his 
flesh, while above head the carrion birds wheeled, waiting 
their meal ; hours of unceasing, unsparing slaughter, when 
the word was given to slay and yield no mercy ; where in the 
great, vaulted, cavernous gloom of rent rocks the doomed 
were hemmed as close as sheep in shambles. Hours, in the 
warm flush of an African dawn, when the arbiter of the duel 
was the sole judge allowed or comprehended by the tigers of 
the tricolor, and to aim a dead shot or to receive one was the 
only alternative left, as the challenging eyes of ' Zephir ' or 
* Chasse-marais * flashed death across the barrUre, in a combat 
where only one might live, though the root of the quarrel had 



248 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

been nothing more than a toss too much of brandy, a pnff of 
tobacco-smoke construed into insult, or a fille de joie's ma- 
liciously cast firebrand of taunt or laugh. Hours of severe 
discipline, of relentless routine, of bitter deprivation, of cam- 
paigns hard as steel in the endurance they needed, in the 
miseries they entailed ; of military subjection, stern and un- 
bending, a yoke of iron that a personal and pitiless tyranny 
weighted with persecution that was scarce less than hatred ; 
of an implicit obedience that required every instinct of liberty, 
every habit of early life, every impulse of pride, and manhood, 
and freedom, to be choked down like crimes, and buried as 
though they had never been. Hours again, that repaid these 
in full, when the long line of Horse swept out to the attack, 
with the sun on the points of their weapons ; when the wheel- 
ing clouds of Arab riders poured like the clouds of the simoom 
on a thinned, devoted troop that rallied and fought as hawks 
fight herons, and saved the day as the sky was flushed with 
that day's decline ; when some soft-eyed captive, with limbs 
of free mountain grace, and the warm veins flushing under the 
clear olive of her cheeks, was first wild as a young fettered 
falcon, and then, like the falcon, quickly learned to tremble 
at a touch, and grow tame under a caress, and love nothing so 
well as the hand that had captured her. Hours of all the 
chanceful fortunes of a soldier's life, in hill-wars and desert 
raids, passed in memory through his thoughts now where he 
was stretched, looking dreamily through the film of his chi- 
bouque-smoke at the city of tents, and the couchant forms of 
camels, and the tall, white, slowly moving shapes of the law- 
less marauders of the sand plains. 

* Is my life worth much more under the French Flag than 
it was under the English ? ' thought the Chasseur, with a 
certain careless, indifTercnt irony on himself, natural to him. 
* There I killed time — here I kill men. Which is the better 
pursuit, I wonder ? The world would rather economise the 
first commodity than the last, I believe. Perhaps it don't 
make an overgood use of either. 

His thoughts did not stay long with that theme. He wag 
no moralist and no philosopher, though he practised, without 
ever knowing it, a philosophy of the highest and simplest kind 
with every day that found him in the ranks of the Algerian 
army, and had found thought grow on him, in a grave if a 
desultory fashion, many a time when he had ridden alone 



UNDER THE HOUSES OF HAIR 249 

llirough defiles that, for aught he knew, might harbour death 
with every stop, or sat the only wakeful watcher beside a 
bivouac fire, while his comrades slept around him, and the 
roar of angry beasts rolled upward from the ravines, or paced 
to and fro in solitude on patrol duty, with a yawning mountain 
pass, or a limitless night-veiled plain before him in the light 
of the moon. He was more silent and more meditative than 
seemed in keeping with a wild lion of the Chasseurs, whose 
daring outdared all the fire-eaters, and whose negligent devilry 
had become a password all over Africa, till ' quel p'tit verra 
a bu Bel-a-faire-peur ? ' (alias, * what special exploit has he 
done to-day ? ') became the question put after every skirmish 
or expedition. But he was much more of a soldier than a 
thinker at any time, and, instead of following out the problem 
of the world's uses of its two raw materials, time and men, he 
found a subject more congenial in the discussion of stable 
science with the Emir. 

To him the austere chief would unbend ; with him the thin 
compressed lips of the Arab would grow eloquent with an 
impressive oratory ; for him all the bonds of hospitality would 
grow closer and warmer. Ilderim might be a pillager, with 
a sure swoop and a merciless steel, as the officials of imperial 
government wrote him out ; of a truth, caravanserais had felt 
the tear of his talons, and battalions staggered under the blows 
of his beak ; but he had two desert virtues that are obsolete 
in the civilised world : he had gratitude and he had sincerity. 

Of course he was but a nomad, a barbarrair,'a fcbbeiraiid^ a 
ruler of robbers ; of course he was but a half-savage Ishmaelite, 
or he would long have abandoned them. 

The night was someway spent when the talk of wild-pigeon- 
blue mares and sorrel stallions closed between the Djied and 
his guest ; and the French soldier, who had been sent hither 
from the Bureau Arabe with another of his comrades, took hig 
way through the now still camp where the cattle were sleep- 
ing, and the fires v/ere burning out, and the banner-folds hung 
motionless in the lustre of the stars, to the black and white 
tent prepared for him. A spacious one, close to the chief's, 
and given such luxury in the shape of ornamented weapons, 
thick carpets, and soft cushions, as the tribe's resources, drawn 
from many a raid on travellers far south, could bring together 
ko testify their hospitality. 

As he opened the folds and entered, his fellow- soldier, who 



250 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

was lying on his back, with his heels much higher than his 
head, and a short pipe in his teeth, tumbled himself up with 
a rapid summersault, and stood bolt upright, giving the salute ; 
a short, sturdy little man, with a skin burnt like a coffee-berry, 
that was in odd contrast with his light dancing blue eyes and 
his close matted curls of yellow hair. 

* Beg pardon, sir ! I was half asleep 1 ' 
The Chasseur laughed a little. 

* Don't talk English ; somebody will hear you one day.' 

' What's the odds if they do, sir ? ' responded the other. 
* It relieves one's feelins a little. All of 'em know I'm 
English, but never a one of 'em know what you are. The 
name you was enrolled by won't really tell 'em nothing. 
They guess it ain't yours. That cute little chap, Tata, he 
says to me yesterday, '* You're always a treatin' of your galonne 
like as if he was a prince." " Dammee ! " says 1, " I'd like to 
see the prince as would hold a candle to him." " You're right 
there," says the little 'un. " There ain't his equal for takin* 
off a beggar's head with a back sweep." ' 

The Corporal laughed a little again, as he tossed himself 
down on the carpet. 

* Well, it's something to have one virtue I But have a care 
what those chatterboxes get out of you.' 

* Lord, sir 1 Ain't I been a takin' care these ten years ? 
It comes quite natural now. I couldn't keep my tongue still ; 
that wouldn't be in anyways possible. So I've let it run on 
oiled wheels on a thousand rum tracks and doublings. I've 
told 'em such a lot of amazin' stories about where we kem 
from, that they've got half a million different styles to choose 
out of. Some thinks as how you're a Polish nob, what got 
into hot water with the Eussians ; some as how you're a 
Italian prince what was cleaned out like Parma and them 
was ; some as how you're a Austrian Archduke, that have cut 
your country because you was in love with the Empress, and 
had a duel about her that scandalised the whole empire ; some 
as how you're a exiled Spanish grandee a* come to learn tac- 
tics and that like, that you may go back, and pitch O'Donnell 
into the middle of next week, whenever you see a chance to 
cut in and try conclusions with him. Bless you, sir 1 you may 
let me alone for bamboozlin' of anybody 1 ' 

The corporal laughed again, as he began to unharness him- 
pelf. There was in him a certain mingling of insouciance 



UNDER THE HOUSES OF HAIR 251 

aaid melancholy, each of which alternately predominated ; the 
former his by nature, the latter born of circumstance. 

' If you can outwit our friends the Zephjnrs, and the 
Loustics, and the Indigenes, you have reached a height of 
diplomacy indeed 1 I would not engage to do it myself. Take 
my word for it, ingenuity is always dangerous — silence is 
always safe.' 

' That may be, sir,' responded the Chasseur, in the sturdy 
English with which his bright blue eyes danced a fitting 
nationahty. * No doubt it's uncommon good for them as can 
bring their minds to it — ^just like water instead 0' wine — but 
it's very tryin' like the teetotaUsm. You might as well tell 
a Newfoundland not to love a splash as me not to love a 
chatter. I'd cut my tongue out sooner than say never a word 
that you don't wish — but say somethin* I must, or die for 
it.' 

With which the speaker, known to Algerian fame by the 
sobriquet of Grache-au-Jiez-d'la-Mort, from the hair-breadth 
escapes and reckless razzias from which he had come out 
without a scratch, dropped on his knees, and began to take 
off the trappings of his fellow-soldier, with as reverential 
a service as though he were a lord of the bedchamber serving 
a Louis Quatorze. The other motioned him gently away. 

* No, no. I have told you a thousand times we are com- ''^' 
rades and equals now.' 

* And I've told you a thousand times, sir, that we aren't, and 
never will be, and don't oughtn't to be,' replied the soldier, 
doggedly, drawing off the spurred and dust-covered boots. , 
'A gentleman's a gentleman, let alone what straits he fall'-^ 
into.' 

* But ceases to be one as soon as he takes a service he 
cannot requite, or claims a superiority he does not possess. 
We have been fellow- soldiers for twelve years ' 

* So we have, sir ; but we are what we always was, and 
always will be — one a gentleman, t'other a scamp. If you i^ 
think so be as I've done a good thing side by side with you 
now and then in the fightin', give me my own way and let 
me wait on you when I can. I can't do much on it when 
those other fellows' eyes is on us ; but here I can and I will 
— beggin' your pardon^ — so there's an end of it. One may 
gpeak plain in this place with nothing but them Arabs about ; 
ftnd all the army know well enough, sir, that if it weren't for 



252 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

that black devil, Chateauroy, you'd have had your oflBcer*9 
commission and your troop too long before now ' 

* Oh, no. There are scores of men in the ranks merit pro- 
motion better far than I do. And — leave the Colonel's name 
alone. He is our chief, whatever else he be.' 

The words were calm and careless, but they carried a 
weight with them that was not to be disputed. * Crache- 
au-nez-d'la-Mort ' hung his head a little and went on un- 
harnessing his Corporal in silence, contenting himself with 
muttering in his throat that it was true for all that, and the 
whole regiment knew it. 

' Yo2i are happy enough in Algeria — eh ? ' asked the one 
he served, as he stretched himself on the skins and carpets, 
and drank down a sherbet that his self- attached attendant had 
made with a skill learned from a pretty cantiniere, who had 
given him the lesson in return for a slashing blow wath 
which he had struck down two *Eiz-pain-sels,' who as the 
best-paid men in the army had tried to cheat her in the price 
of her Cognac. 

' I, sir ? Never was so happy in my life, sir. I'd be 
discontented indeed if I wasn't. Always some spicy bit of 
fighting. If there aren't a fantasia, as they call it, in the 
field, there's always somebody to pot in a smaU way; and 
if you're lying by in barracks there's always a scrimmage 
hot as pepper to be got up with fellows that love the row 
just as well as you do. It's life, that's where it is ; it ain't 
rustin'/ 

* Then you prefer the French service ? ' 

* Right and away, sir. You see this is how it is,' and 
the redoubtable yellow - haired * Crache-au-nez-d'la-Mort ' 
paused in the vigorous cleansing and brushing he was bestow- 
ing on his Corporal's uniform and stood at ease in his shirt 
and trousers, with his eloquence no way impeded by the 
brule-gueule that was always between his teeth. * Over 
there in England, you know, sir, pipeclay is the deuce- 
and-all ; you've always got to have the stock on, and look as 
stiff as a stake, or it's all up with you ; you're that tormented 
about little things that you get riled and kick t]ie traces 
before the great 'uns come to try you. There's a lot of lads 
would be game as game could be in battle, ay, and good ladg 
to boot, doing their duty right as a trivet when it came to 
anything like war, that are clean druv' out of the service in 



UNDER THE HOUSES OF HAIR 253 

time o' peace, along with all them petty persecutions that 
worry a man's skin like mosquito-bites. Now here they 
know that, and Lord 1 what soldiers they do make through 
knowing of it ! It's tight enough and stem enough in big 
things ; martial law sharp enough, and obedience to the letter 
all through the campaigning; but that don't grate on a 
fellow. If he's worth his salt he's sure to understand that he 
must move like clockwork in a fight, and that he's to go to 
hell at double-quick-march, and mute as a mouse, if his 
ofiScers see fit to send him. That's all right, but they don't 
fidget you here about the little fallals ; you may stick your 
pipe in your mouth, you may have your lark, you may do as 
you like, you may spend your decojtij^te how you choose, you 
may settle your little duel as you wall, you may shout and 
fling and jump and riot on the march, so long as you march on ; 
you may lounge about half dressed in any style as suits you 
best, so long as you're up to time when the trumpets sound 
for you ; and that's what a man likes. He's ready to be a 
machine when the machine's wanted in working trim, but 
when it's run off the line and the steam all let off, he do like 
to oil his own wheels, and lie a bit in the sun at his fancy. 
There aren't better stuff' to make soldiers out of nowhere than 
Englishmen, God bless 'em, but they're badgered, they're 
horribly badgered, and that's why the service don't take over 
there, let alone the way the country grudge 'em every bit of 
pay. In England you go in the ranks — well, they all just 
tell you you're a blackguard; and there's the lash, and you'd 
better behave yourself or you'll get it hot and hot ; they take 
for granted you're a bad lot, or you wouldn't be there, and in 
course you're riled and go to the bad according, seeing that 
it's what's expected of you. Here, contrariwise, you come 
in the ranks and get a welcome, and feel that it just rests 
with yourself whether you won't be a fine fellow or not ; and 
just along of feelin' that you're pricked to show the best metal 
you're made on, and not to let nobody else beat you out of 
the race like. Ah I it makes a wonderful difference to a 
fellow— a wonderful difference — whether the service he's 
come into look at him as a scamp that never will be nothin' 
but a scamp, or as a rascal that's maybe got in him, all rascal 
though he is, the pluck to turn into a hero. It makes a 
wonderful difference, this 'ere, whether you're looked at as 
stuff that's only fit to be shovelled into the sand after a 



154 UNDER TAVO FLAGS 

battle; or as stuiff that'll belike churn into a great man. 
And it's just that difference, sir, that France has found out, 
and England hasn't— God bless her all the same.' 

With which the soldier whom England had turned adrift, 
and France had won in her stead, concluded his long oration 
by dropping on his knees to refill his Corporal's chibouque. 

* A army's just a machine, sir, in course,' he concluded, 
as he rammed in the Turkish tobacco. But then it's a live 
machine for all that ; and each little bit of it feels for itself, 
like the joints in an eel's body. Now, if only one of them 
little bits smarts, the whole crittur goes wrong — there's the 
mischief.' 

Bel-a-faire-peur listened thoughtfully to his comrade where 
he lay flung full length on the skins. 

' I dare say you are right enough. I knew nothing of my 

men when — when I was in England ; we none of us did ; but 

I can very well believe what you say. Yet — fine fellows 

, though they are here, they are terrible blackguards ! ' 

i * In course they are, sir ; they wouldn't be such larky com- 

\ pany unless they was. But what I say is that they're scamps 

who're told they may be great men if they like ; not scamps 

who're told that because they're once gone to the devil they 

must always keep there. It makes all the difierence in 

■life.' 

* Yes — it makes all the difference in life, whether hope ia 
left, or — left out 1 ' 

The words were murmured with a half smile that had a 
dash of infinite sadness in it ; the other looked at him quickly, 
with a shadow of keen pain passing over the bright, frank, 
laughing features of his sunburnt face ; he knew that the 
brief words held the whole history of a life. 

' Won't there never be no hope, sir ? ' he whispered, while 
his voice trembled a little under the long fierce * Zephyr ' 
sweep of his yellow moustaches. 

The Chasseur rallied himself with a slight, careless laugh ; 
the laugh with which he had met before now the onslaught 
of charges ferocious as those of the magnificent day of 
Mazagran. 

' Whom for ? Both of us ? Oh, yes, very likely we shall 
achieve fame, and die sous-officiers or gardes champetres I A 
uplendid destiny.' 

*No, sir,' said the other with the hesitation still in the 



UNDER THE HOUSES OF HAIR 255 

quiver of his voice. ' You know I meant, no hope of your 

ever being again ' 

Ho stopped : he scarcely knew how to phrase the thoughts 

he was thinking. 

The other moved with a certain impatience. 

* How often must I tell you to forget that I was ever 
anything except a soldier of France ? — forget as I have for- 
gotten it ! ' 

The audacious, irrepressible * Crache-au-nez-d'la-Mort,' 
whom nothing could daunt and nothing could awe, looked 
penitent and ashamed as a chidden spaniel. 

* I know, sir. I have tried many a year, but I th5ught 
perhaps as how his lordship's death ' 

* No life and no death can make any difference to me, 
except the death that some day an Arbico's lunge will give 
me ; and that is a long time coming.' 

* Ah, for God's sake, Mr. Cecil, don't talk like this I ' 

The Chasseur gave a short sharp shiver, and started at the 
name, as if a bullet had struck him. 

* Never say that again ! ' 

Rake, Algerian-christened Crache-au-nez-d'la-Morti stam- 
mered a contrite apology. 

' I never have done, sir — not for never a year, but it 
wrung it out of me hke — you talking of wanting death in 
that way ' 

* Oh, I don't want death ! ' laughed the other, with a low, 
indifferent laughter, that had in it a singular tone of sadness 
all the while. * I am of our friends the Spahis' opinion — 
that life is very pleasant with a handsome well-chosen harem, 
and a good horse to one's saddle. Unhappily harems are too 
expensive for Roumis ! Yet I am not sure that I am not 
better amused in the Chasseurs than I was in the Household 
— specially when we are at war. I suppose we must be wild 
animals at the core, or we should never find such an infinite 
zest in the death grapple. Good-night 1 ' 

He stretched his long, slender, symmetrical limbs out on 
the skins that made his bed, and closed his eyes, with the 
chibouque still in his mouth, and its amber bowl resting on 
the carpet, which the friendship and honour of Sidi Ilderim 
had strewn over the bare turf on which the house of hair 
was raised. He was accustomed to sleep as soldiers sleep, 
in all the din of a camp, or with the roar of savage brutes, 



256 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

echoing from the bills around, with his saddle beneath hia 
head, under a slab of rock, or with the knowledge that at 
every instant the alarm might be given, the drums roll out 
over the night, and the enemy be down like Hghtning on the 
bivouac. But now a name — long unspoken to him — had re- 
called years he had buried far and for ever from the first day 
that he had worn the Mpid'ordonnance of the Army of Algeria, 
and been enrolled among its wild and brilliant soldiers. 

Now, long after his comrade had slept soundly, and the 
light in the single bronze Turkish candle-branch had flickered 

fand died away, the Chasseur d'Afrique lay wakeful, looking 

\ outward through the folds of the tent at the dark and silent 
camp of the Arabs, and letting his memory drift backward to 
a time that had grown to be to him as a dream — a time when 

, another world than the world of Africa had known him as 

[ Bertie Cecil. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

CIGAEETTE EN BIENFAITRICB 

' Oh, h6 I We are a queer lot ; a very queer lot. Sweep- 
ings of Europe,' said Claude de Chanrellou, dashing some 
vermout off his golden moustaches, where he lay full length 
on three chairs outside the Cafe in the Place du Gouverne- 
ment, where the lamps were just lit, and shining through the 
burnished moonlight of an Algerian evening, and the many- 
coloured, many-raced, picturesque, and polyglot population of 
the town were all fluttering out with the sunset, like so many 
gay-coloured moths. 

' Hein ! Diamonds are found in the chiffoujiier's * sweep- 
ings,' growled a General of Division, who was the most 
terrible martinet in the whole of the French service, but who 
loved * mes en/ants d'enfer^* ^ as he was wont to term hia 
men, with a great love, and who would never hear another 
disparage them, however he might order them blows of the 
matraqtie, or exile them to Beylick himself. 

' Ragpicker. ■ My children of hell. 



CIGARETTE EN BIENFAITRICE 257 

* You are poetic, men General,' said Claude de Chanrellon ; 
* but you are true. We are a furnace in which Bla,ckguardism 
is burnt into Dare-devilry, and turned out as Heroism. A 
fine manufacture that, and one at which France has no equal.' 

* But our manufactures keep the original hall-mark, and 
show that the devil made them, if the drill have moulded 
them ! ' urged a Colonel of Tirailleurs Indigenes. 

Chanrellon laughed, knocking the ash off a huge cigar. 

* Pardieu ! We do our original maker credit then, 
iiothing good in this world without a dash of diablerie. 
Scruples are the wet blankets, proprieties are the blank walls, 
principles are the quickset hedges of hfe, but devilry is its 
champagne I ' 

' Ventre bleu ! ' growled the General. ' We have a right 
to praise the blackguards ; without them our conscripts would 
be very poor trash. The conscript fights because he has to 
fight, the blackguard fights because he loves to fight. A great 
difference that.' 

The Colonel of Tirailleurs lifted his eyes ; a slight pale 
effeminate dark-eyed Parisian, who looked scarcely stronger 
than a hothouse flower, yet who, as many an African chro- 
nicle could tell, was swift as fire, keen as steel, unerring as a 
leopard's leap, untiring as an Indian on trail, once in the 
field with his Indigenes. 

* In proportion as one loves powder, one has been a scoundrel, 
mon G6n6ral,* he murmured. *What the catalogue of your 
crimes must be ! ' 

The tough old campaigner laughed grimly ; he took it as a 
high compHment. 

* Sapristi I The cardinal virtues don't send anybody, I 
guess, into African service. And yet, pardieu I I don't know. 
What fellows I have known 1 I have had men among my 
Zephyrs — and they were the wildest ^pratiques too — that 
would have ruled the world 1 I have had more wit, more 
address, more genius, more devotion, in some headlong scamp 
of a loicstic than all the courts and cabinets would ifumish. 
Such lives, such lives too, morbleu t ' 

And he drained his absinthe thoughtfully, musing on the 
mars^ellous vicissitudes of war, and on the patrician blood, the 
wasted wit, the Beaumarchais talent, the Mirabeau power 
the adventures like a page of fairy tale, the brains whose 
Btrength could have guided a sceptre, which he had found 

B 



258 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

and known, hidden under the rough uniform of a Zephyr, 
buried beneath the canvas shirts of a Roumi, lost for ever in 
the wild lawless escapades of rebelhous pratiques,^ who 
closed their days in the stifling darkness of the dungeons of 
Beylick, or in some obscure skirmish, some midnight vidette, 
where an Arab flissa severed the cord of the warped life, 
and the death was unhonoured by even a line in the Gazettes 
du Jour. 

* Faith I ' laughed Chanrellon, regardless of the General's 
observation. 'If we all published our memoirs, the world 
would have a droll book. Dumas and Terrail would be beat 
out of the field. The real recruiting sergeants that send us 
to the ranks would be soon found to be ' 

' Women ! ' growled the General. 

* Cards,' sighed the Colonel. 

* Absinthe,' muttered another. 

* Mussetism in a garret.' 

* Politics unpen tr op fort.' 

* A comedy that was hissed.* 

' Carbonarist vows when one was a fool.' 
i ' The spleen.' 
' * The dice.' 

* The roulette.' 

' The natural desire of humanity to kill and to get killed I * 

* Morbleu 1 ' cried Chanrellon, as the voices closed, * all 
those mischiefs beat the drum, and send volunteers to the 
ranks, sure enough ; but the General named the worst. Look 
at that little Cora ; the Minister of War should give her the 
Cross. She sends us ten times more fire-eaters than the Con- 
scription does. Five fine fellows — of the vieille roche too — 
joined to-day, because she has stripped them of everything, 
and they have nothing for it but the service. She is in- 
valuable, Cora.' 

* And there is not much to look at in her either,' objected 
a captain, who commanded Turcos. ' I saw her when our 
detachment went to show in Paris. A baby face, innocent as 
a cherub — a soft voice — a shape that looks as slight and as 
breakable as the stem of my glass — there is the end 1 ' 

The Colonel of Tirailleurs laughed scornfully but gently ; 
he had been a great lion of the fashionable world before he 
came out to his Indigenes. 

' Insubordinates. 



CIGARETTE EN BIENFAITRICE 259 

* The end of Cora I The end of her is—" VEnfer / " My 
good Alcide — that " baby face " has ruined more of us than 
would make up a battaUon. She is so quiet, so tender ; smiles 
like an angel, glides like a fawn ; is a little sad, too, the inno- 
cent dove ; looks at you with eyes as clear as water, and paf I 
before you know where you are, she has pillaged with both 
hands, and you wake one fine morning bankrupt ! ' 

* Why do you let her do it ? ' growled the vieille moustacJiSf 
who had served under Junot, when a Httle lad, and had scant 
knowledge of the ways and wiles of the sirens of the Eue 
Breda. 

' Ah-bah ! ' said the Colonel, with a shrug of his shoulders ; 
' it is the thing to be ruined by Cora. There is Bebee-je- 
m'enfous ; there is Blonde-Miou-Miou ; there is the Cerisette ; 
there is Neroli ; there is Loto — any one of them is equally 
good style with Cora ; but to be at all in the fashion, one 
must have been talked of with one of the six.' 

' Diantre ! ' sighed Claude de Chanrellon, stretching his 
handsome hmbs, with a sigh of recollection ; for Paris had 
been a Paradise Lost to him for many seasons, and he had 
had of late years but one solitary glimpse of it. *It was 
Coeur d'Acier who was the rage in my time. She ate me up 
— that woman — in three months. I had not a hundred francs 
left : she stripped me as bare as a pigeon. Her passion was 
emeralds en cabochon • just then. Well, emeralds e?i cabochon 
made an end of me, tmd sent me out here. Coeur d'Acier 
was a wonderful woman 1 — and the chief wonder of her was, 
that she was as ugly as sin.' 

'Ugly?' 

' Ugly as sin ! But she had the knack of making herself 
more charming than Venus. How she did it nobody knew ; 
but men left the prettiest creatures for her : and she ruined 
us, I think, at the rate of a score a month.' 

* Like Loto,' chimed in the Tirailleur. * Loto has not a 
shred of beauty. She is a big, angular, raw-boned Normande, 
with a rough voice, and a villainous patois ; but to be well 
with Loto is to have achieved distinction at once. She will 
have nothing under the third order of nobility ; and Prince 
Paul shot the Due de Var about 'ier the otljer day. She is a 
great creature, Loto : nobody knows her secret.' 

' EmeraUls uncut. 

02 



26o UNDER TWO FLAGS 

* L'audacey mon ami ; toujours de Vaudacc ! * * said Chan- 
rellon, with a twist of his superb moustaches. ' It is tha 
finest quality out ; nothing so sure to win. Hallo 1 there is 
le beau caporal listening. Ah I Bel-^-faire-peur, you fell, too, 
among the Lotos and the Coeurs d'Acier once, I will warrant.' 

The Chasseur, who was passing, paused and smiled a little, 
as he saluted. 

* Coeurs d'Acier are to be found in all ranks of the sex, 
monsieur, I fancy ? ' 

' Bah ! you beg the question. Did not a woman send you 
out here — eh ? ' ,, ..^ v 

•No, monsieur — only chance.* f^K**^^ a. ^-^^ ^ "^< •-' 

* A fig for your chance I Women are the mischief that 
casts us adrift to chance.* 

* Monsieur, we cast ourselves sometimes.' 

' Dieu de Dieu 1 I doubt that. We should go straight 
enough if it were not for them.' 
The Chasseur smiled again. 

* M. le Viscomte thinks we are sure to be right, then, if, 
for the key to every black story, we ask, " Who was she ? " ' 

* Of course I do. Well ! who was she ? We are all quoting 
our tempters to-night. Give us your story, mon brave I ' 

* Monsieur, you have it in the folios matriculeSf as well as 
my sword could write it.* 

' Good, good ! ' muttered the listening General. The 
soldier-like answer pleased him, and he looked attentively at 
the giver of it. 

Chanrellon's brown eyes flashed a bright response. 

* And your sword writes in a brave man's fashion — writes 
what France loves to read. But before you wore your sword 
here ? Tell us of that. It was a romance — wasn't it ? ' 

' If it were, I have folded down the page, monsieur.* 

* Open it then ! Come — what brought you out among 
us? You had gamed au roi ddpoiiilU — that was it. Out 
with it I ' 

* Monsieur, direct obedience is a soldier's duty ; but I 
never heard that inquisitive annoyance was an officer's 
privilege 1 * 

The words were calm, cold, a little languid, and a little 
haughty. The manner of old habit, th e instinct of buried 

J Audacity, my friend 1 Always that. 



CIGARETTE EN BIENFAITRICE 261 

pride spoke in them, and disregarded the ban-ier between a 
private of Chasseurs who was but a sous-oflQcier, and a Colonel 
Commandant who was also a noble of France. 

Involuntarily, all the men sitting round the little tables, 
Dutside the caf6, tm'ned and looked at him. The boldness of 
speech and the quietude of tone drew all their eyes in curiosity 
upon him. 

Chanrellon flushed scarlet over his frank brow, and an in- 
stant's passion gleamed out of his eyes : the next he threw his 
three chairs down vnth a crash, as he shook his mighty frame 
like an Alpine dog, and bowed with a French grace, with a 
campaigner ' s frankness. 

*A right rebuke I — fairly given, and well deserved. I 
thank you for the lesson.* 

The Chasseur looked surprised and moved ; in truth, he was 
more touched than he showed. Under the rule of Chateauroy, 
consideration or courtesy had been things long unshown to 
him. Involuntarily, forgetful of rank, he stretched his hand /| 
out, on the impulse of soldier to soldier, of gentleman to gentle- / 
man. Then, as the bitter remembrance of the difference of f 
rank and station between them flashed on his memory, he was 
raising it proudly but deferentially, in the salute of a sub- 
ordinate to his superior, when Chanrellon's grasp closed on it 
readily. The victim of Coeur d'Acier was of as gallant a 
temper as ever blent the reckless condottUre with the thorouglx- ■ 
bred noble. 1 

The Chasseur coloured slightly, as he remembered that he 
had forgotten alike his own position and their relative stations. 

* I beg your pardon, Monsieur le Viscomte,' he said simply, 
as he gave the salute with ceremonious grace, and passed 
onward rapidly, as though he wished to forget and to have 
forgotten the momentary self-oblivion of which he had been 
guilty. 

' Dieu I ' muttered Chanrellon, as he looked after him, 
and struck his hand on the marble-topped table till the glasses 
shook. ' I would give a year's pay to know that fine fellow's l 
history. He is a gentleman — every inch of him.' V 

*And a good soldier, which is better,' growled the General 
of Brigade, who had begun life in his time driving an ox- 
plough over the heavy tillage of Alsace. 

* A private of Chateauroy — eh ? ' asked the Tirailleur, 
lifting his eyeglass to watch the Chasseur as he went. 



£62 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

'Pardieu — yes — more'a the pity/ said Ohanrellon, who 
epoke his thoughts as hastily as a hand-grenade scatters its 
powder. ' The Black Hawk hates him — God knows why — 
and he is kept down in consequence, as if he were the idlest 
lout or the most incorrigible rebel in the service. Look at 
what he has done. All the Bureaux will tell you there is 
not a finer Roumi in Africa — not even among our Schaouacks I 
Since he joined, there has not been a hot and heavy thing 
with the Arabs that he has not had his share in. There has 
not been a campaign in Oran or Kabaila that he has not gone 
out with. His limbs are slashed all over with Bedouin steel. 
He rode once twenty leagues to deliver despatches with a 
spearhead in his side, and fell, in a dead faint, out of his 
saddle just as he gave them up to the commandant's own 
hands. He saved the day, two years ago, at Granaila. We 
should have been cut to pieces, as sure as destiny, if he had 
not collected a handful of broken Chasseurs together, and 
rallied them, and rated them, and lashed them with their 
shame, till they dashed with him to a man into the thickest 
of the fight, and pierced the Arabs' centre, and gave us 
breathing room, till we all charged together, and beat the 
Arbicos back like a herd of jackals. There are a hundred 
more like stories of him — every one of them true as my sabre ; 
— and, in reward, he has just been made a galonnS I ' 

* Superb I ' said the General, with grim significance. 
• Ce n'est pas d la France — ga ! Twelve years 1 In five 
under Napoleon, he would have been at the head of a brigade ; 
but then ' and the veteran drank his absinthe with a regret- 
ful melancholy ; * but then, Napoleon read his men himself 
and never read them wrong. It is a divine gift that for 
commanders.' 

* The Black Hawk can read, too,' said Ohanrellon, medi- 
tatively ; it was the * petit nom,' that Chateauroy had 
gained long before, and by which he was best known through 
the army. * No eyes are keener than his, to trace a lascar 
hibvr. But, where he hates, he strikes beak and talons — 
pong! — till the thing drops dead — even where he strikes a 
bird of his own brood.' 

* That is bad,' said the old General, sententiously. * There 
are four people who should have no personal likes or dislikes : 
they are an innkeoper, a schoolmaster, a ship's- skipper, and 
a military chief.* 



CIGARETTE EN BIENFAITRICE 263 

With which axiom he called for some more vert-vert. 

Meanwhile, the Chasseur went his way through the cos- 
mopolitan groups of the great square. A little fartlicr 
onward, laughing, smoking, chatting, eating ices outside a 
Cafe Chantant, were a group of Englishmen — a yachting 
party, whose schooner lay in the harbour. He lingered a 
moment, and lighted a fusee, just for the sake of hearing the 
old famihar words. As he bent his head above the vesuvian, 
no one saw the shadow of pain that passed over his face. 

But one of them looked at him curiously and earnestly. 

* The deuce,' he murmured to the man nearest him, * who 
the dickens is it that French soldier's like ? ' 

The French soldier heard, and, with the cigar in his 
teeth, moved away quickly. He was uneasy in the city — 
uneasy lest he should be recognised by any passer-by or 
tourist. ^ 

* I need not fear that, though,' he thought with a smile. \ 
*■ Ten years ! — why, in that world, we used to forget the 
blackest ruin in ten da^ys, and the best life among us ten 
hours after its grave was closed. Besides, I am safe enough, j 
I am dead I ' ^--^ 

And he pursued his onward way, with the red glow of 
the cigar under the chestnut splendour of his beard, and the 
black eyes of veiled Moresco women flashed lovingly on his 
tall lithe form, with the scarlet ceinturon swathed round his 
loins, and the scarlet undress fez set on his forehead, fair as 
lb woman's__still, despite of the tawny glow oI^lheA&ic sun,; 
that had been on it for so long. L^ 

He was ' dead ; ' therein had lain all his security ; thereby j 
had ' Beauty of the Brigades ' been buried beyond all dis- 
covery in ' Bel-^-faire-peur ' of the 2nd Chasseurs d'Afrique. 
When, on the Marseilles rails, the maceration and slaughter 
of as terrible an accident as ever befell a train rushing 
through midnight darkness, at headlong speed, had left him- 
self and the one man faithful to his fortunes unharmed by 
little less than a miracle, he had seen in the calamity the I 
surest screen from discovery or pursuit. -^ 

Leaving the baggage where it was jammed among the 
debris, he had struck across the country with Rake for the 
few leagues that still lay between them and the city, and had 
entered Marseilles as weary foot-travellers, before half the 
ruin on the rails had been seen by the full noon sun. 



264 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

As it chanced, a trading yawl was loading in the port, to 
run across to Algiers that very day. The skipper was short 
of men, and afraid of the Lascars, who were the only sailors 
that he seemed likely to find, to fill up the vacant places in 
his small crew. 

Cecil offered himself and his comrade for the passage. He 
had only a very few gold pieces on his person, and he was 
willing to work his way across, if he could. 

*But you're a gentleman,' said the skipper, doubtfully 
eyeing him, and his velvet dress, and his black sombrero with 
its eagle's plume. * I want a rare, rough, able seaman, for 
there'll be like to be foul weather. She looks too fair to 
last,' he concluded, with a glance upward at the sky. 

He was a Liverpool man, master and owner of his own 
rakish-looking little black-hulled craft, that, rumour was wont 
to say, was not averse to a bit of slaving, if she found herself 
^ in far seas, with a likely run before her. 

* You're a swell, that's what you are,' emphasised the 
skipper. * You bean't no sort of use to me.' 

' Wait a second,* answered Cecil. * Did you ever chance 
to hear of a schooner called Begina ? * 
The skipper's face lighted in a moment. 

* Her as was in the Biscay, July come two years ? her as 
druv' through the storm like a mad thing, and flew like a 
swallow, when everything was splittin' and founderin', and 
shipping seas around her ? her as was the first to bear down 
to the great Wrestler, a-lyin' there hull over in water, and 
took aboard all as ever she could hold o' the passengers, 
a-pitchin' out her own beautiful cabin fittins to have as 
much room for the poor wretches as ever she could ? Be you 
a-meanin' her ? ' 

Cecil nodded assent. 

* She was my yacht, that's all ; and I was without a 
captain through that storm. Will you think me a good 
enough sailor now ? ' 

The skipper wrung his hand, till he nearly wrung it off. 

* Good enough ! Blast my timbers 1 there aren't one will 
beat you in any waters. Come on, sir, if so be as you wishes 
it ; but never a stroke of work shall you do atween my decks. 
I never did think as how one of your yachting nobs could 
ever be fit to lay hold of a tiller ; but, hang me, if the Club 
make such sailors as you it's a rare 'un I Lord a mercy I 



CIGARETTE EN BIENFAITRICE 265 

why, my wife wag in the Wrestler. I've heard her tell 
scores of times as how she was a'most dead when that little 
yacht came through a swaling sea, that was all heavin' and 
roarin' round the wreck, and as how the swell what owned 
it gev' his cabin up to the womenMnd, and had his swivel 
guns and his handsome furniture pitched overboard, that he 
might be able to carry more passengers, and fed 'em, and 
gev' 'em champagne all round, and treated 'em like a prince, 
till he ran 'em straight into Brest Harbour. But, damn me ; > 
that ever a swell like you should ' --— * 

* Let's weigh anchor,' said Bertie, quietly. 

And so he crossed unnoticed to Algeria, while through 
Europe the tidings went, that the mutilated form, crushed 
between iron and wood, on the Marseilles line, was his, and 
that he had perished in that awful, ink-black, sultry southern 
night, when the rushing trains had met, as meet the thunder- 
clouds. The world thought him dead. As such the journals 1 
recorded him, with the shameful outlines of imputed crime, 
to make the death the darker ; as such his name was for- 
bidden to be uttered at EoyalKeu ; as such the Seraph 
mourned him with passionate loving force, refusing to the 
last to accredit his guilt : — and he, leaving them in their 
error, was drafted into the French army under two of hia 
Christian names, which happily had a foreign sound — Louig 
Victor — and laid aside for ever his identity as Bertie Cecil. 

He went at once on service in the interior, and had scarcely 
come in any of the larger towns since he had joined. Hia 
only danger of recognition had once been when a Marshal 
of France, whom he had used to know well in Paris and 
at the court of St. James, held an inspection of the African 
troops. 

Filing past the brilliant staff, he had ridden at only a few 
yards' distance from his old acquaintance, and, as he saluted, 
had glanced involuntarily at the face that he had seen often- 
times in the Salles des Mar^chaux, and even under the roof 
of Royallieu. The great chief's keen blue eyes were scruti- 
nising the regiment, ready to note a chain loose, a belt awry, 
a sword specked with rust, if such a sin there were against 
* les ordonnances * in all the glitt-ering squadrons ; and swept 
over him, seeing in him but one among thousands — a unit in 
the mighty aggregate of the * raw material ' of war. 

The Marshal only muttered to a General beside himi 



866 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

' Why don't they all ride like that man ? He has the seat of 
the English Guards.' But that it was in truth an officer 
of the English Guards, o.nd a friend of his own, who paced 
past him as a private of Algerian Horse, the French leader 
never dreamed. 

. From the extremes of luxury, indolence, indulgence, 
pleasure, and extravagance, Cecil came to the extremes of 
hardship, poverty, discipline, suffering, and toil. From a life 
where every sense was gratified, he came to a Hfe where 
every privation was endured. He had led the fashion — he 
came where he had to bear without a word the curses, oaths, 
and insults of a corporal or a sous-lieutenant. He had been 
used to every delicacy and delight — he came where he had 
to take the coarse black bread of the army as a rich repast. 
He had thought it too much trouble to murmur flatteries in 
great ladies' ears — he came where morning, noon, and night 
the inexorable demands of rigid rules compelled his incessant 
obedience, vigilance, activity, and self-denial. He had known 
nothing from his childhood up except an atmosphere of 
amusement, refinery, brilliancy, and idleness — he came where 
gnawing hunger, brutalised jest, ceaseless toil, coarse obscenity, 
agonised pain, and pandemoniac mirth alternately filled the 
measure of the days. 

A sharper contrast, a darker ordeal, rarely tried the steel of 
any man's endurance; yet, under it, he verified the truth, 
* Bon sang ne pent mentir.* No Spartan could have borue 
the change more mutely, more staunchly, than did the * dandy 
of the Household.' 

The first years were, it is true, years of intense misery to 
him. Misery, when all the blood glowed in him under some 
petty tyrant's jibe, and he had to stand immovable, holding 
his peace. Misery, when the hunger and thirst of long 
marches tortured him, and his soul sickened at the half-raw 
offal, and the water thick with dust, and stained with blood, 
"which the men round him seized so ravenously. Misery, 
when the dreary dawn broke, only to usher in a day of me- 
chanical manoeuvres, of petty tyrannies, of barren, burdensome 
hours in the exercise-ground, of convoy duty in the burning 
Bun-glare, and under the heat of harness ; and the weary 
pight fell with the din and uproar, and the villainous blas- 
phemy, and befouled merriment of the riotous Chambr^e, that 
denied even the peace and oblivion of sleep. They were years 



CIGARETTE EN BIENFAITRICE 267 

of infinite wretchedness oftentimes, only relieved by the loyalty 
and devotion of the man who had followed him into his exile. 
But, however wretched, they never wrung a single regret or 
lament from Cecil. He had come out to this life ; he took it 
as it was. As, having lost the title to command, the high 
breeding in him made him render implicitly the mute obe- 
dience which was the first duty of his present position, so it 
made him accept, from first to last, without a sign of complaint 
or of impatience, the altered fortunes of his career. The 
hardest-trained, lowest-born, longest-inured soldier in the 
Zephyr ranks did not bear himself with more apparent content 
and more absolute fortitude than did the man who had used 
to think it a cruelty to ride with his troop from Windsor to 
Wormwood Scrubs, and had never taken the trouble to load 
his own gun any shooting season, or to draw off his own coat 
any evening. He suffered acutely many times ; suffered till 
he was heartsick of his life ; but he never sought to escape 
the slightest penalty or hardship, and not even Eake ever 
heard from him a single syllable of irritation or of self-pity. 

Moreover, the war-fire woke in him. 

In one shape or another, active service was almost always 
his lot, and hot severe campaigning was his first introduction 
to military Hfe in Algeria. The latent instinct in him — the 
instinct that had flashed out during his lazy fashionable calm 
in all moments of danger, in all days of keen sport ; the in- 
stinct that had made him fling himself into the duello with 
the French boar, and made him mutter to Forest King, * Kill 
me if you like, but don't fail me ! ' — was the instinct of the 
born soldier. In peril, in battle, in reckless bravery, in the 
rush of the charge and the excitement of the surprise, in the 
near presence of death, and in the chase of a foe through a 
hot African night when both were armed to the teeth, and 
one or both must fall when the grapple came — in all these 
that old instinct, aroused and unloosed, made him content ; 
made him think that the life which brought them was worth 
the living. 

There had always been in him a reckless dare-devilry, which 
had slept under the serene effeminate insouciance of his care- 
less temper and his pampered habits. It had full rein now, 
and made him, as the army affirmed, one of the most intrepid, 
victorious, and chivalrous lascars of its fiery ranks. Fate had 
flung him off his couch of down into the tempest of war, into 



268 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

the sternness of life spent ever on the border of the grave, 
ruled ever by an iron code, requiring at every step self-nega- 
tion, fortitude, submission, courage, patience, the self-control 
which should take the uttermost provocation from those in 
command without even a look of reprisal, and the courageous 
recklessness which should meet death and deal death, which 
should be as the eagle to swoop, as the lion to rend. And he 
was not found wanting in it. 
r* He was too thoroughbred to attempt to claim a superiority 
that fortune no longer conferred on him, to seek to obtain a 
deference that he had no longer the position to demand. He 
obeyed far more implicitly than many a ruffian filibuster, who 
had been among the dregs of society from his birth. And 
though his quick-eyed comrades knew, before he had been 
among them five minutes, that an ' aristocrat ' had taken 
refuge under the Flag of Mazagran, they never experienced 
from him one touch of the insolence that their own sous-officierg 
beat them with, as with the flat of the sword ; and they never 
found in him one shadow of the arrogance that some fellow- 
soldier, who had swelled into a sergeant-major, or bristled 
into an adjutant, would strut with, like any turkey-cock. 

He was too quiet, too courteous, too calmly listless ; he had 
too easy a grace, too soft a voice, and too many gentleman 
habits for them. But when they found that he could fight like 
a Zouave, ride like an Arab, and bear shot-wounds or desert- 
thirst as though he were of bronze, it grew a delight to them 
to see of what granite and steel this dainty patrician was 
made ; and they loved him with a rough, ardent, dog-like 
love, when they found that his last crust in a long march 
would always be divided ; that the most desperate service of 
danger was always volunteered for by him ; that no severity 
of personal chastisement ever made him clear himself of a 
false charge at a comrade's expense ; and that all his decompte 
went in giving a veteran a stoup of wine, or a sick conscript 
a tempting meal, or a prisoner of Beylick some food through 
the grating, scaled, too, at risk of life and limb, 
p Cecil had all a soldier's temper in him ; and the shock which 
j had hurled him out of ease, and levity, and ultra- luxury, to 
stand alone before as dark and rugged a fortune as ever fronted 
any man, had awakened the war tire which ha 1 only slumbered 
because lulled by habit and unaroused by circumstance. He 
had never before been called on to exert either thought oc 



CIGARETTE EN BIENFAITRICE 269 

action ; the necessity for both called many latent qualities in 
him into play. The same nature, which made him wish to be 
killed over the Grand Military course, rather than live to lose 
the race, made him now bear privation as calmly, and risk 
death as recklessly, as the hardiest and most fiery loustic of 
the African cantonments. 

Bitter as the life often was, severe the suffering, and acute 
the deprivation, the sternest veteran scarcely took them more 
patiently, more silently, than the * aristocrat,' to whom a 
corked claret or a dusty raceday had'l^een calamities. Cast 
among these wild iron-muscled Bohemians, who fought like 
tigers, and were as impenetrable as rhinoceri, * race ' was too 
strong in Cecil not to hold its own with them, whether in the 
quality of endurance, or the quality of daring. 

' Mai7i defemme, mais main defer,^ the Eoumis were wont 
to say of their comrade, with his delicate habits, * comma une 
Marquise du Faubourg,' as they would growl impatiently ; 
and his tenacious patience which would never give way either 
in the toil of the camp or the grip of the struggle. 

On the surface it seemed as though never was there a life 
more utterly thrown away than the life of a Guardsman and a 
gentleman, a man of good blood, high rank, and talented gifts 
had he ever chosen to make anything of them, buried in the 
ranks of the Franco-African army, risking a nameless grave 
in the sand with almost every hour, associated with the 
roughest riffraff of Europe, liable any day to be slain by the 
slash of an Arab flissa, and rewarded for ten years' splendid 
service by the distinctive badge of a corporal. Any one of the 
friends of his former years, seeing him thus, would have said 
that he might as well be thrown at once into a pit in the 
sand, where the dead were piled twenty deep after a skirmish 
to lie and rot, or be dug up by the talons of famished beasts, 
whichever might chance, as live thus in the obscurity, poverty, 
and semi-barbarism of an Algerian private's existence. 

Yet it might be doubted if any life would have done fori 
him what this had done : it might be questioned, if, judging 
a career not by its social position, but by its effect on charac- 
ter, any other would have been so well for him, or would 
equafly have given steel and strength to the indolence and 
languor of his nature as this did. In his old world he would 
have lounged listlessly through fashionable seasons, and, in an 
atmosphere that encouraged his profound negligence of every- 



270 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

I thing and his natural nil admirari listlessness, would have 
i glided from refinement to efi:eminacy, and from lazy grace to 
' blas6 inertia. 

The severity and the dangers of the campaigns with the 
French army had roused the sleeping lion in him, and made 
him as fine a soldier as ever ranged under any flag. He had 
Bufi;ered, braved, resented, fought, loved, hated, endured, and 
even enjoyed, here in Africa, with a force and a vividness 
that he had never dreamed possible in his calm, passionless, 
insouciant world of other days. He had known what the 
hunger of famine, what the torment of fever, what the agony 
of forbidden pride, what the wild delight of combat were. 
He had known what it was to long madly for a stoup of 
water ; to lie raving, yet conscious, under the throes of gun- 
shot wounds ; to be forced to bear impassively words for a 
tithe of which he could have struck across the mouth the 
chief who spoke them ; to find in a draught of wretched 
wine, after days of marching, a relish that he had never f omid 
in the champagnes and burgundies of the Guards' mess ; to 
I love the dark Arab eyes, that smiled on him in his exile, as 
he had never loved those of any woman, and to suffer when 
I the death film gathered over them as he had never thought it 
1 in him to suffer for any death or any life ; to feel every nerve 
thrill, and every vein glow with fierce, exultant joy as the 
musketry pealed above the plains, and his horse pressed down 
on to the very mouths of the rifles, and the naked sabres 
flashed like the play of hghtnings, and, over the dead body of 
his charger, he fought ankle deep in blood, with the Arabs 
circling like hawks, and their great blades whirling round 
him, catching the spears aimed at him with one hand, while 
he beat back their swords, blow for blow, with the other — 
he had known all these, the desert passions; and while out- 
wardly they left him much tlie same in character, they 
changed him vitally. They developed him into a magnificent 
soldier — too true a soldier not to make thoroughly his the 
service he had adopted, not to, oftentimes, almost forget that 
he had ever lived under any other flag than that tricolor which 
he followed and defended now. 

The quaint heroic Norman motto of his ancestors carved 

over the gates of Bevallieu — ' C(£ur Vaillant Sc Fait Boyaume ' 

—verified itself in his case. Outlawed, beggared, robbed at a 

\^ itroke of every hope and prospect, he had taken his adversity 



^. ,, "VN^CIGARETTE EN BIENFAITRICE 271 

^'- ■' 

.boldly by the beard, and had made himself at once a country 
\ ftnd a kingdom among the brave, fierce, reckless, loyal hearta 
;of the men who came from north, south, east, and west, 
*\ driven by every accident, and scourged by every fate, to fill 
\up the battalions of North Africa. 

As he went now, in the warmth of the afterglow, he turned 
up into the Rue Babazoum, and paused before the entrance of 
a narrow, dark, tumbledown, picturesque shop, half like a 
stall of a Cairo bazaar, half like a Jew's den in a Florentine 
alley. 
A cunning wizen head peered out at him from the gloom. 

* Ah-ah I good even, Corporal Victor ! * 

Cecil, at the words, crossed the sill and entered. 

* Have you sold any ? ' he asked. There was a slight 
constraint and hesitation in the words, as of one who can 
never fairly bend his spirit to the yoke of barter. 

The little, hideous, wrinkled, dwarf-like creature, a trader 
in curiosities, grinned with a certain gratification, in disap- 
pointing this lithe-limbed, handsome Chasseur. 

*Not one. The toys don't take. Daggers now, or any- 
thing made out of spent balls, or flissas one can tell an Arab 
story about, go off like wildfire ; but your ivory bagatelles 
are no sort of use, M. le Caporal.* 

' Very well — no matter,' said Cecil simply, as he paused 
a moment before some delicate little statuettes and carvings — 
miniature things, carved out of a piece of ivory, or a block of 
marble the size of a horse's hoof, such as could be picked up 
in dry river channels, or broken off stray boulders ; slender 
crucifixes, wreaths of foliage, branches of wild fig, figures of 
Arabs and Moors, dainty heads of dancing-girls, and tiny 
chargers fretting like Bucephalus. They were perfectly con- 
ceived and executed. He had always had a D'Orsay-like 
gift that way, though, in common with all his gifts, he had 
utterly neglected ail culture of it, until, cast adrift on the 
world, and forced to do something to maintain himself, he had 
watched the skill of the French soldiers at all such expedients 
to gain a few coins, and had solaced many a dreary hour in 
barracks and under canvas with the toy-sculpture, till he had 
attained a singular art at it. He had commonly given Raka 
the office of selling them, and as commonly spent all the pro- 
ceeds on all other needs save his own. 

He lingered a moment, with regret in his eyes. He had 



272 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

scarcely a sou in his pocket, and he had v/antod some money 
sorely that night for a comrade dying of a lung-wound — a 
noble fellow, a French artist, who, in an evil hour of despera- 
tion, had joined the army, with a poet's temper that made its 
hard, colourless routine unendurable, and had been shot in the 
chest in a night skirmish. 

* You will not buy them yourself ? ' he asked at length, 
the colour flushing in his face. He would not have pressed the 
question to save his own life from starving, but L6on Ramon 
would have no chance of a fruit or a lump of ice to cool hig 
parched lips and still his agonised retching, unless he himself 
could get money to buy those luxuries that are too splendid 
and too merciful to be provided for a dying soldier, who 
knows so little of his duty to his country as to venture to die 
in his bed. 

* Myself 1 ' screeched the dealer, with a derisive laugh. 
* Ask me to give you my whole stock next, M, le Galonn6 ! 
These trumperies will lie on hand for a year.' 

Cecil went out of the place without a word. Hig thoughts 
were with L^on Ramon, and the insolence scarce touched 
him. * How shall I get him the ice ? * he wondered. * God I 
if I had only one of the lumps that used to float in our claret 
cup ! ' 

As he left the den, a military fairy, all gay with blue and 
crimson, hke the fuchsia-bell she most resembled, with a 
meerschaum in her scarlet lips and a world of wrath in her 
bright black eyes, dashed past him into the darkness within, 
and before the dealer knew or dreamt of her, tossed up the 
old man's little shrivelled frame like a shuttlecock, shook him 
till he shook like custards, flung him upward and caught him 
as if he were the hoop in a game of La Grace, and set him 
down bruised, breathless, and terrified out of his wits. 

' Ah, chAnapan I ' cried Cigarette, wdth a volley of slang 
utterly untranslatable, * that is how you treat your betters, 
is it ? Miser, monster, crocodile, serpent 1 Harpagon was 
an angel to you.* (She knew Harpagon because some of 
her Roumis chattered bits of Moliere.) * He wanted the money 
and you refused it ? Ah — h — h ! son of Satan 1 you live on 
other men's miseries I Run after him — quick, and give him 
this, and this, and this, and this ; and say you were only in 
jest, and that the things were worth a Sheik's ransom. Stay 1 
you must not give him too much, or he will know it is not 



CIGARETTE EN BIENFAITRICE 27^ 

you — viper ! Run quick, and breathe a word about me if 
you dare ; one whisper only, and my Spahis shall cut your 
throat from ear to ear. Off I or you shall have a bullet i% 
quicken your steps ; misers dance weD when pistols play the 
minuet 1 ' 

With which exordium the little Amie du Drapeau shook 
her culprit at every epithet, emptied out a shower of gold and 
silver, just won at play, from the bosom of her uniform, 
forced it into the dealer's hands, hurled him out of his own 
door, and drew her pretty weapon with a clash from her 
sash. 

* Run for your life ! — and do just what I bid you, or a shot 
shall crash your skull in as sure as my name is Cigarette I ' 

The little old Jew flew as fast as his limbs would carry 
him, clutching the coins in his horny hands. He was terrified 
to a mortal anguish, and had not a thought of resisting or 
disobeying her; he knew the fame of Cigarette — as who did 
not ? Knew that she would fire at a man as carelessly as at 
a cat, more carelessly in truth, for she favoured cats, saving 
many from going into the Zouaves' soup- caldrons, and favoured 
civilians not at all ; and knew that at her rallying cry all the 
sabres about the town would be drawn without a second's 
deliberation, and sheathed in anything or anybody that had 
ciTended her, for Cigarette was, in her fashion, Generalissima 
of all the Regiments of Africa. 

The dealer ran with all the speed of terror, and overtook 
Cecil, who was going slowly onward to the barracks. 

*■ Are you serious ? * he asked in surprise at the large 
amount, as the little Jew panted out apologies, entreaties, 
and protestations of his only having been in jest, and of his 
fervently desiring to buy the carvings at his own price, as he 
knew of a great collector in Paris to whom he needed to send 
them. 

' Serious 1 Indeed am I serious, M. le Caporal,' pleaded 
the curiosity-trader, turning his head in agonised fear to see 
if the vivandiere's pistol was behind him. * The things will 
be worth a great deal to me where I shall send them, ani 
though they are but bagatelles, what is Paris itself but one 
bagatelle ? Pouf ! they are all children there — they will love 
the toys. Take the money, I pray you, take the money ! ' 

Cecil looked at him a moment ; he saw the man was in 
earnest, and thought but little of his repentance and trepida- 

T 



274 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

tion, for the citizens were all afraid of slighting or annoying 
a soldier. 

* So be it. Thank you,' he said, as he stretched out his 
hand and took the coins, not without a keen pang of the old 
pride that would not wholly be stilled, yet gladly for the sake 
of the Chasseur dying yonder, growing delirious and wrench- 
ing the blood off his lungs in want of one touch of the ice, 
that was spoiled by the ton weight, to keep cool the wines 
and the fish of M. le Marquis de Chateauroy. And he went 
onward to spend the gold his sculptures had brought on some 
yellow figs and some cool golden grapes, and some ice-chilled 
wines that should soothe a little of the pangs of dissolution to 
his comrade, and bear him back a moment, if only in some 
fleeting dream, to the vine shadows and the tossing seas of 
corn, and the laughing, sunlit sweetness of his own fair 
country by the blue Biscayan waves. 

* You did it ? That is well. Now, see here — one word 
of me, now or ever after, and there is a little present that will 
come to you, hot and quick, from Cigarette,' said the little 
Friend of the Flag, with a sententious sternness that crushed 
each word deliberately through her tightset pearly teeth. 
The unhappy Jew shuddered and shut his eyes as she held a 
bullet close to his sight, then dropped it with an ominous 
thud in her pistol barrel. 

' Not a syllable, never a syllable,' he stammered ; ' and 
if I bad known you Avere in love with him, ma belle * 

A box on the ears sent him across his own counter. 

' In love ? Parbleu ! I detest the fellow I ' said Cigarette, 
with fiery scorn and as hot an oath. 

* Truly ? Then why give your napoleons ? ' began 

the bruised and stammering Israelite. 

Cigarette tossed back her pretty head, that was curly and 
spirited and shapely as any thoroughbred spaniel's ; a superb 
glance flashed from her eyes, a superb disdain sat on her lips. 

' You are a Jew-trader ; you know nothing of our code 
under the tricolor. We — nous autres soldats — are too proud 
not to aid even an enemy when he is in the right, and France 
always arms for justice ! * 

With which magnificent peroration she swept all the carv- 
ings — they were rightfully hers — off the table. 

' They will light my cooking fire ! ' she said contemptu- 
ously, as she vaulted lightly over the counter into the street 



CIGARETTE EN BIENFAITRICE 275 

aJid pirouetted like a bit of fantoccini, that is wound up to 
waltz for ever, along the slope of the crowded Babazoum. 
All made way for her, even the mighty Spahis and the trudg- 
ing Bedouin mules, for all knew that if they did not she 
would make it for herself, over their heads or above theii 
prostrated bodies. 

She whirled her way, like a gay-coloured top set humming 
down a road, through the divers motley groups, singing ai. 
the top of her sweet mirthful voice, for she was angry with 
herself ; and, for that, sang the more loudly the most wicked 
and risque of her slang songs, that gave the morals of a Messa- 
lina in the language of a fish-wife, and yet had an inalienable, 
mischievous, contagious, dauntless French grace in it withaL 
Finally she whirled herself into a dark deserted Moresco 
archway, a little out of the town, and dropped on a stone 
block, as a swallow, tired of flight, drops on to a bough. 

'Is that the way I revenge myself? Ah, bah ! I deserve 
to be killed ! When he called me unsexed — unsexed — un- 
sexed ! ' — and with each repetition of the infamous word, so 
bitter because vaguely admitted to be true, with her cheeks 
scarlet and her eyes aflame, and her hands clinched, she flunt: 
one of the ivory wreaths on to the pavement and stamped 01 > 
it with her spurred heel until the carvings were ground intr 
powdered fragments — stamped, as though it were a livin:r 
foe, and her steelbound foot were treadmg out all its Ufe with 
burning hate and pitiless venom. 

In the act her passion exhausted itself, as the evil of sucli 
warm, impetuous, tender natures will ; she was very stil) , 
and looked at the ruin she had done with regret and a touci ; 
of contrition. 

• It was very pretty — and cost him weeks of labour, per- 
haps,' she thought. 

Then she took all the rest up, one by one, and gazed at 
them. Things of beauty had had but httle place in her law- 
less young life. What she thought beautiful was a regiment 
sweeping out in full sunlight, with its eagles, and its colours, 
and its kettle-drums ; what she held as music was the beat of 
the r&veilU and the mighty roll of the great artillery ; who t 
made her pulse throb and her heart leap was to see two fine 
opposing forces draw near for the onslaught and thunder of 
battle. Of things of grace she had no heed, though she had 
so much grace herself; and her life, though full of colour, 

t2 



lie UNDER TWO FLAGS 

pleasure, and mischief, was as rough a one in most respects 
as any of her comrades'. These delicate artistic carvings 
were a revelation to her. 

Here was the slender pliant spear of the river-reed ; here 
the rich foliage of the v^d fig-tree ; here the beautiful blos- 
som of the oleander; here fruit, and flower, and vine-leaf, 
and the pendulous ears of millet, twined together in their 
ivory semblance till they seemed to grow beneath her hands 
— and those little hands looked so brown and so powder- 
stained beside the pure snow whiteness of the wreaths ! She 
touched them reverently one by one ; all the carvings had 
their beauty for her, but those of the flowers had far the 
most. She bad never noted any flowers in her life before, 
save those she strung together for the Zephyrs on the Jour de 
Mazagran. Her youth was a military ballad, rhymed ^dva- 
ciously to the rhythm of the Pas de Charge ; but other or 
softer poetry had never by any chance touched her until now 
— now that in her tiny, bronzed, war-hardened palms lay th© 
white foHage, the delicate art-trifles of this Chasseur, who 
bartered his talent to get a touch of ice for the burning lips 
of his doomed comrade. 

* He is an aristocrat — he has such gifts as this — and yet 
he is in the ranks, has no country, is so poor that he is glad 
of a Jew's pittance, and must sell all this beauty to get a slice 
of melon for L6on Ramon 1 ' she thought, wliQe the silvery 
moon strayed in through a broken arch, and fell on an ivory 
coil of twisted lentiscus leaves and river grasses. 

And, lost in a musing pity, Cigarette forgot hor vow of 
vengeance. 



CHAPTER XIX 

THE rVORY SQUADKONS 

The Cbambr^e of the Chasseurs was bright and clean in 
the morning light : in common with all Algerian ban ack- 

, rooms as unlike the barrack-rooms of the ordinary army as 
Cigarette, with her d^bonnaire devilry, smoking on a gun- 

( wagon, was unlike a trim Normandy soubrette, sewing on a 

; bench in the Tuileries gardena 



THE IVORY SQUADRONS 277 

Disorder reigned supreme; but Disorder, although a dis- 
heTGlled goddess, is very often a picturesque one, and more 
of an artist than her better-trained sisters ; and the disorder 
was brightened with a thousand vivid colours and careless 
touches that blent in confusion to enchant a painter's eyes. 
The room was crammed with every sort of spoil that the 
adventurous pillaging temper of the trcx)pers could forage 
from Arab tents, or mountain caves, or river depths, or desert 
beasts and birds. All things, from tiger-skins to birds' -nests, 
from Bedouin weapons to ostrich-eggs, from a lion's mighty 
coat to a tobacco- stopper chipped out of a morsel of deal, 
were piled together, pell-mell, or hung against the whitewash 
walls, or suspended by cords from bed to bed. Everything 
that ingenuity and hardihood, prompted by the sharp spuv 
ef hunger, could wrest from the foe, from the country, from 
«arth or water, from wild beasts or riven rock, were here in 
the midst of the soldiers' regimental pallets and regimental 
arms, making the Chambr^e at once atelier, storehouse, work- 
shop, and bazaar ; while the men, cross-legged on their little 
hard couches, worked away with the zest of those who work 
for the few coins that alone will get them the food, the draught 
of wine, the hour's mirth and indulgence at the estaminet, to 
which they look across the long stern probation of discipline 
and manoeuvre. 

Skill, grace, talent, invention whose mother was necessity, j 
and invention that was the unforced offshoot of natural 
genius, were all at work ; and the hands that could send the 
naked steel down at a blow through turban and through 
brain could shape, with a woman's ingenuity, with a crafts- 
man's skill, every quaint device and dainty bijou from stone 
and wood, and many-coloured feathers, and moi:j.tain berries^ 
and all odds and ends that chance might bring to hand, and 
that the women of Bedouin tribes or the tourists of Noith 
Africa might hereafter buy with a wondrous tale appended to 
them, racy and marvellous as the Sapir slang and the military 
imagination could weave, to enhance the toys' value, and get 
a few coins more on them for their manufacture. 

Ignorance jostled art, and bizarrerie ran hand in hand with 
talent, in all the products of the Chasseurs' extemporised 
studio; but nowhere was there ever clumsiness, and every- 
where was there an industry, gay, untiring, accustomed to 
make the best of the worst ; the workers laughing, chattering, 



278 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

singing, in all good fellowship, while the fingers that gave the 
doad-thrust held the carver's chisel, and the eyes that glared 
hioodred in the heat of battle twinkled mischievously over 
the meerschaum bowl, in whose grinning form some great 
chief of the Bureaucratie had just been sculptured in audacious 
parody. 

In the midst sat Rake, tattooing with an eastern skill the 
skin of a great lion, that a year before he had killed in single 
combat in the heart of Oran, having watched for the beast 
twelve nights in vain, high perched on a leafy crest of rock, 
above a watercourse. While he worked, his tongue flew far 
and fast over the camp- slang — the slangs of all nations came 
easy to him — in voluble conversation with the Chasseur next 
him, who was making a fan out of feathers that any Peeress 
might have signalled with at the Opera. * Crache-au-nez- 
d'la-Mort' was in high popularity with his comrades; and 
had said but the truth when he averred that he had never 
bvoen so happy as under the tricolor. The ofScers pronounced 
.him an incurably audacious ^ i^ratiquc' ; he was always in 
mischief, and the regimental rules he broke through like a 
terrier through a gauze net ; but they knew that when once 
the trumpets sounded Boot and Saddle, this yellow-haired 
daredevil of an English fellow would be worth a score of 
more orderly soldiers, and that wherever his adopted flag was 
■carried, there would he be, first and foremost, in everything 
save retreat. The English service had failed to turn Rake 
to account ; the French service made no such mistake, 
but knew that though this British bulldog might set his 
teeth at the leash and the lash, he would hold on like 
grim death in a fight, and live game to the last, if well 
handled. 

Apart, at the head of the Chambr^e, sat Cecil. The 
banter, the songs, the laughter, the chorus of tongues, went 
on uuslackened by his presence. He had cordial sympathies 
with the soldiers : with those men who had been his fol- 
lowers in adversity and danger ; and in whom he had found, 
despite all their occasional ferocity and habitual recklessness, 
traits and touches of the noblest instincts of humanity. His 
heart was with them always, as his purse, and his wine, and 
his bread were alike shared ever among them. He had 
learned to love them well — these wild wolf-dogs, whose fangg 
were so terrible to their foes, but whose eyes would still 



THE IVORY SQUADRONS 279 

glisten at a kind word, and who would give a staunch fidelity 
unknown to tamer animals. 

Living with them, one of them in all their vicissitudes, 
knowing all their vices, but knowing also all their virtues, 
owing to them many an action of generous nobility, and 
watching them in many an hour when their gallant self- 
devotion and their loyal friendships went far to redeem their 
lawless robberies and their ruthless crimes, he understood 
them thoroughly, and he could rule them more surely in 
their tempestuous evil, because he comprehended them so 
well in their mirth and in their better moods. When the 
grade of sous-officier gave him authority over them, they 
obeyed him implicitly because they knew that his sympathies 
were with them at all times, and that he would be the last to 
check their gaiety, or to punish their harmless indiscre- 
tions. 

The warlike Roumis had always had a proud tenderness 
for their Bel-^-faire-peur and a certain wondering respect 
for him ; but they would not have adored him to a man as 
they did unless they had known that they might laugh 
without restraint before him, and confide any dilemma to him 
sure of aid, if aid were in his power. 

The laughter, the work, and the clatter of conflicting 
tongues were at their height ; Cecil sat, now listenicg, now 
losing himself in thought, while he gave the last touch to the 
carvings before him. They were a set of chessmen which it 
had taken him years to find materials for and to perfect ; the 
white men were in ivory, the black in walnut, and were two 
opposing squadrons of French troops and of mounted Arabs. 
Beautifully carved, with every detail of costume rigid to 
truth, they were his masterpiece, though they had only been 
taken up at any odd ten minutes that had happened to be 
unoccupied during the last three or four yea^rs. The chess- 
men had been about with him in so many places and under 
canvas so long, from the time that he chipped out their first 
Zouave pawn, as he lay in the broiling heat of Gran prostrate 
by a dry brook's stony channel, that he scarcely cared to part 
with them, and had refused to let Rake offer them for sale, 
with all the rest of the carvings. Stooping over them, he 
did not notice the doors open at the end of the Chambree, 
until a sudden silence that fell on the babble and uproar 
round him made him look up, then he rose and gave the 



28c UNDER TWO FLAGS 

salute with the rest of his discomfited and awe-strickeB 
troopers. Chateauroy with a brilliant party had entered. 
The Colonel flashed an eagle glance round. 

* Fine discipline ! You shall go and do this pretty work at 
Beyhck ! ' 

The soldiers stood like hounds that see the lash ; tliey 
knew that he was like enough to carry out his threat ; though 
they were doing no more than they had always tacit if not 
open permission to do. Cecil advanced, and fronted him. 

* Mine is the blame, mon Commandant I * 

He spoke simply, gently, boldly ; standing with the cere- 
mony that he never forgot to show to their chief, where ths 
glow of African sunlight through the casement of th« 
Chambr^e fell full across his face, and his eyes met the dark 
glance of the * Black Hawk ' unflinchingly. He never 
heeded that there was a gay, varied, numerous group behind 
Chateauroy ; visitors who were looking over the barrack ; 
he only heeded that his soldiers were unjustly attacked an^ 
menaced. 

The Marquis gave a grim significant smile, that cut like 
so much cord of the scourge. 

* Qa va sans dire I Wherever there is insubordination i* 
the regiment the blame is very certain to be yours I CorporaJ 
Gaston, if you allow your Chambrde to be turned into tlie 
riot of a public fair you will soon find yourself degraded frona 
the rank you so signally contrive to disgrace.' 

The words were far less than the tone they were spokea 
in, that gave them all the insolence of so many blows, as h© 
swung on his heel and bent to the ladies of the party h« 
escorted. Cecil stood mute ; bearing the rebuke as it became 
a Corporal to bear his Commander's anger ; a very kee» 
observer might have seen that a faint flush rose over the sun 
tan of his face, and that his teeth clinched under his beard, 
but he let no other sign escape him. 

The very self-restraint irritated Chateauroy, who would 
have been the first to chastise the presumption of a reply, had 
any been attempted. 

' Back to your place, sir ? ' he said, with a wave of hii 
hand, as he might have waved back a our. • Teach your 
men the first formula of obedience at any rate 1 ' 

Cecil fell back in silence. With a swift warning glance at 
Rake — whose mouth was working, and whose forehead wa» 



THE IVORY SQUADRONS 281 

uofc as fire, where he clinched his lion-skin, and longed to be 
once free, to pull his chief down as lions pull in the deatk 
spring — he went to his place at the farther end of tlie 
ehamber and stood, keeping his eyes on the chess carvings, 
lest the control which was so bitter to retain should be broken 
if he looked on at the man who had been the curse and th© 
antagonist of his whole life in Algeria. 

He saw nothing and heard almost as little of all that went 
©n around him ; there had been a flutter of cloud-like colour 
in his sight, a faint dreamy fragrance on the air, a sound of 
murmuring voices and of low laughter ; he had known that 
some guests or friends of the Marquis's had come to view the 
barracks, but he never even glanced to see who or what thej 
were. The passionate bitterness of just hatred, that he had 
to choke down as though it were the infamous instinct of 
some nameless crime, was on him. 

The moments passed, the hum of the voices floated to his 
ear, the ladies of "the party lingered by this soldier and by that, 
buying half the things in the chamber, filling their hands with 
all the quaint trifles, ordering the daggers and the flissas and 
the ornamented saddles and the desert skins to adorn their 
chateaux at home ; and raining down on the troopers a shower 
©f uncounted napoleons until the Chasseurs, who had begun 
to think their trades would take them to Beylick, thougJit 
instead that they had drifted into dreams of El Dorado. H« 
never looked up ; he heard nothing, heeded nothing ; he was 
dreamily wondering whether he should always be able so te 
hold his peace, and to withhold his arm, that he should never 
strike his tyrant down with one blow, in which all the 
©pprobrimn of years should be stamped out ? A voice woke 
him from his reverie. 

' Are those beautiful carvings yours ? ' 

He looked up, and in the gloom of the alcove where ht 
stood, where the sun did not stray, and two great rugs of 
various skins, with some conquered banners of Bedouins, hunj 
like a black pall, he saw a woman's eyes resting on him ; 
proud, lustrous eyes, a little haughty, very thoughtful, yet 
soft withal, as the deepest hue of deen waters. He bowed t© 
her with the old grace of manner tiidt had so amused and 
amazed the little vivandiere. 

' Yes, madame, they are mine/ 

' Ah ? — what wonderful skill I * 



e82 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

She took the White King, an Arab Sheik on his charger, 
in her hand, and turned to those about her, speaking of its 
beauties and its workmanship in a voice low, very melodious, 
ever so slightly languid, that fell on Cecil's ear like a chime 
of long-forgotten music. Twelve years had drifted by since 
he had been in the presence of a high-bred woman, and 
those lingering delicate tones had the note of his dead 
past. 

He looked at her ; at the gleam of the brilliant hair, at the 
arch of the proud brows, at the dreaming, imperial eyes ; it 
was a face singularly dazzling, impressive and beautiful at all 
times ; most so of all in the dusky shadows of the waving 
desert banners, and the rough, rude, barbaric life of the 
Caserne, where a fiUe de joie or a cantiniere were all of her 
sex that was ever seen, and those — poor wretches ! — were 
hardened, and bronzed, and beaten, and brandy-steeped out 
of all likeness to the fairness of women. 

* You have an exquisite art. They are for sale ? * she 
asked him : she spoke with the careless gracious courtesy of 
a grande dame to a Corporal of Chasseurs, looking little at 
him, much at the ivory Kings and their mimic hosts of 
Zouaves and Bedouins. 

* They are at your service, madame.' 

' And their price ? ' She had been purchasing largely of 
the men on all sides as she had swept down the length of the 
Chambr^e, and she drew out some French bank-notes as she 
spoke. Never had the bitterness of poverty smitten him as 
it smote him now when this young patrician offered him her 
gold ! Old habits vanquished ; he forget who and where he 
now was ; he bowed as in other days he had used to bow in 
the circle of St. James's. 

'Is— the honour of your acceptance, if you will deign to 
give that.' 

He forgot that he was not as he once had been. He forgot 
that he stood but as a private of the French army before an 
aristocrat whose name he had never heard. 

She turned and looked at him, which she had never done 
before, so absorbed had she been in the chessmen, and so little 
did a Chasseur of the ranks pass into her thoughts. There 
was an extreme of surprise, there was something of offence, 
and there was still more of coldness in her glance ; a proud, 
languid, astonished coldness of regard, though it softened 



THE IVORY SQUADRONS 283 

slightly as she saw that he had spoken in all courtesy of 
intent. 

She bent her graceful regal head. 

' I thank you. Your very clever work can of course only 
be mine by purchase.' 

And with that she laid aside the White King among his 
little troop of ivory Arabs, and floated onward with her 
friends. Cecil's face paled slightly under the mellow tint left 
there by the desert sun and the desert wind ; he swept the 
chessmen into their walnut case and thrust them out of sight 
under his knapsack. Then he stood motionless as a sentinel, 
with the great leopard skins and Bedouin banners behind him, 
casting a gloom that the gold points on his harness could 
scarcely break in its heavy shadow, and never moved till the 
echo of the voices, and the cloud of the draperies, and the 
fragrance of perfumed laces, and the brilliancy of the staff 
ojfficers' uniforms had passed away, and left the soldiers alone 
in their Chambr^e. Those careless, cold words from a woman's 
lips had cut him deeper than the matraque could have cut him, 
though it had bruised his loins and lashed his breast ; they 
showed all he had lost. 

' What a fool I am still ! ' he thought, as he made 
his way out of the barrack-room. ' I might have fairly 
forgotten by this time that I ever had the rights of a 
gentleman.' 

So the carvings had won him one warm heart and one keen 
pang that day ; the vivandiere forgave, the aristocrat stung 
him, by means of those snowy, fragile, artistic toys that he 
had shaped in lonely nights under canvas by ruddy picket- 
fires, beneath the shade of wild fig-trees, and in the stir and 
colour of Bedouin encampments. 

*I must ask to be ordered out of the city,' he thought, as 
he pushed his way through the crowds of soldiers and civilians. 
' Here I get bitter, restless, impatient ; here the past is always 
touching me on the shoulder ; here I shall soon grow to regret, 
and to chafe, and to look back like any pining woman. Out 
yonder there, with no cares to think of but my horse and my 
troop, I am a soldier — and nothing else : so best. I shall be 
nothing else as long as I live. Pardieu, though ! I don't 
know what one wants better : it is a good life, as life goes. 
One must not turn compliments to great ladies, that is all ; 
not much of a deprivation there. The chessmen are the better 



284 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

for that ; her Maltese dog would have broken them all the first 
time it upset their table 1 ' 

He laughed a little as he went on smoking his brUle-gueule* 
The old carelessness, mutability, and indolent philosophies were 
with him still, and were still inclined to thrust away and glide 
from all pain as it arose. Though much of gravity and of 
thoughtfulness had stolen ou him, much of insouciance re- 
mained ; and there were times when there was not a mort 
reckless or a more nonchalant lion in all the battalions than 
* Bel-^-faire-peur.' Under his gentleness there was 'wild 
blood * in him still, and the wildness was not tamed by the 
fiery champagne-draught of the perilous, adventurous years he 
spent. 

' I wonder if I shall never teach the Black Hawk that he 
may strike his beak in once too far?' he pondered, with & 
sudden darker, graver touch of musing ; and involuntarily 
he stretched his arm out, and looked at the wrist, supple ai 
Damascus steel, and at the muscles that were traced beneath 
the skin, as he thrust the sleeve up, clear, firm, and sinewy 
as any athlete's. He doubted his countenance there, fast rein 
as he held all rebellion in, close shield as he bound to him 
against his own passions in the breastplate of a soldier's firs» 
duty — obedience. 

He shook the thought off him as he would have shaken a 
snake. It had a terrible temptation — a temptation which he 
knew might any day overmaster him ; and Cecil, who all 
through his life had certain inborn instincts of honour, which 
served him better than most codes or creeds served their pro- 
fessors, was resolute to follow the military religion of obedience 
enjoined in the Service that had received him at his needs, 
and to give no precedent in his own person that could be 
fraught with dangerous, rebellious allurement for the untamed, 
chafing, red-hot spirits of his comrades, for whom he kn^w 
insubordination would be ruin and death — whose one chance 
of reward, of success, and of a higher ambition, lay in tbeiif 
implicit subordination to their chiefs, and their continuous 
resistance of every rebellious impulse. 

Cecil had always thought very little of himself. 

In his most brilliant and pampered days he had always 
considered in his own heart that he was a graceless fellow, 
not worth his salt, and had occasionally wondered, in a listless 
sort of way, why so useless a bagatelle d la mode as his ow» 



THE IVORY SQUADRONS 285 

life was had ever been created. He thought much the sa.me 
now ; but following his natural instincts, which were always 
the instincts of a gentleman, and of a generous temper, he 
did, unconsciously, make his life of much value among its 
present comrades. ^^k^^ 

His influence had done more to humanise the men he waa^ 
associated with than any preachelrs or * teachers could have 
done. The most savage and obscene brute in the ranks with 
him caught something gentler and better from the * aristo- 
crat.' His refined habits, his serene temper, his kindly 
forbearance, his high instinctive honour, made themselves felt 
imperceptibly, but surely ; they knew that he was as fearless 
in war, as eager for danger as themselves, they knew that he 
was no saint, but loved the smile of women's eyes, the flush 
©f wines, and the excitation of gaming hazards as well as 
they did ; and hence his influence had a weight that probably 
a more strictly vii'tuous man's would have strained for, and 
missed for ever. The coarsest ruffian felt ashamed to make 
an utter beast of himself before the calm eyes of the patri- 
cian. The most lawless pratique felt a lie halt on his lips 
when the contemptuous glance of his gentleman -comrade 
fcaught him that falsehood was poltroonery. Blasphemous 
tongues learnt to rein in their filthiness when this * beau 
lion ' sauntered away from the picket-fire, on an icy night, 
to be out of hearing of their witless obscenities. More than - 
once the weight of his arm and the slash of his sabre had 
called them to account in fiery fashion for their brutality to 
women or their thefts from the country people, till they grew 
aware that ' Bel-a-faire-peur ' would risk having all their 
g words buried in him rather than stand by to see injustice ' 
done. *'*" 

And throughout his corps men became unconsciously gentler, | 
juster, with a finer sense of right and wrong, and less bestial j 
modes of pleasure, of speech, and of habit, because he was 
among them. Moreover, the keen-eyed desperadoes who made 
up the chief sum of his comrades saw that he gave unques- 
tioning respect to a chief who made his life a hell ; and 
rendered unquestioning submission under a&onts, tyrannies, 
and insults which, as they also saw, stung him to the quick, 
and tortured him as no physical torture would have done — 
and the sight was not without a strong effect for good on 
jttiem. They could tell that he suffered under these as they 



286 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

never suffered themselves, yet he bore them and did his duty 
with a self-control and patience they had never attained. 

Almost insensibly they grew ashamed to be beaten by himj 

and strove to grow hke him as far as they could. They never 

knew him drunk, they never heard him swear, they never 

found him unjust, even to a poverty-stricken indigene, or 

f'bruta], even to ai,fille de joie. Insensibly his presence human- 

\ i'sed them. Of a surety, the last part Bertie dreamed of playing 

was that of a teacher to any mortal thing — yet — here in Africa, 

it might reasonably be questioned if a second Augustin or 

Francis Xavier would ever have done half the good among 

the devil-may-care Roumis that was wrought by the daunt- 

I less, listless, reckless soldier who followed instinctively the 

■ one religion which has no cant in its brave simple creed, and 

j binds man to man in links that are true as steel — the religion 

lof a gallant gentleman's loyalty and honour. 



CHAPTER XX 

CIGARETTE EN OONSBIL ET OACHETTB 

*CoRroEAL Victor, M. le Commandant desires yon to 
present yourself at his campagne to-night, at ten precisely, 
with all your carvings ; — above all, with the chessmen.' 

The swift sharp voice of a young officer of his regiment 
wakened Cecil from his musing, as he went on his way down 
the crowded, tortuous, stifling street. He had scarcely time 

.Jo catch the sense of the words, and to halt, giving the salute, 

f before the Chasseur's skittish little Barbary mare had galloped 
past liim, scattering the people right and left, knocking over 
a sweetmeat seller, upsetting a string of maize-laden mules, 
jostling a venerable marabout on to an impudent little grisette, 
and laming an old Moor as he tottered to his mosque, without 
any apology for any of the mischief, in the customary in- 
solence, which makes • Roumis * and * Bureaucratie ' alike 
execrated by the indigenous populace with a detestation that 

V. the questionable benefits of civilised importations can do very 
little to counterbalance in the fiery breasts of the sons of 

\ iha soiL 



CIGARETTE EN CONSEIL ET CACHETTE 287 

Cecil involuntarily stood still. His face darkened. All 
orders that touched on the service, even where harshest and 
most unwelcome, he had taught himself to take without aisy 
hesitation, till he now scarcely felt the check of the steel 
curb ; but to be ordered thus like a lackey — to take his wares 
thus like a hawker ! 

'Ah ma cantche ! We are soldiers, not traders — aren't 
we ? You don't like that, M. Victor ? You are no pedlar — 
eh ? And you think you would rather risk being court- 
maitialled and shot, than take your ivory toys for the Black 
Hawk's talons ? ' 

Cecil glanced up in astonishment at the divination and 
translation of his thoughts, to encounter the bright falcon eyes 
of Cigarette looking down on him from a little oval casement 
above, dark as pitch within, and whose embrasure, with its rim 
of grey stone coping, set off like a picture-frame, with a heavy 
background of unglazed Rembrandt shadow, the piquant head 
of the Friend of the Flag, with her pouting, scarlet, mocking 
lips, and her mischievous challenging smile, and her dainty 
little gold-banded foraging cap set on curls as silken and jettj 
as any black Irish setter's. 

' Bon jouTf ma telle ! ' he answered, with a little weariness., 
lifting his fez to her with a certain sense of annoyance, that 
this young Bohemian of the barracks, this child with her 
slang and her satire, should always be in his way hke a 
shadow. 

' Bon jour i mon brave /' returned Cigarette, contemptuously. 
' We are not so ceremonious as all that in Algiers ! Good 
fellow, you should be a chamberlain, not a corporal. What 
fine manners, mon Dieu ! ' 

She was incensed, and piqued, and provoked. She had 
been ready to forgive him because he carved so wonderfully, 
and sold the carvings for his comrade at the hospital ; sh« 
was holding out the olive-branch after her own petulant 
fashion ; and she thought, if he had had any grace in him, 
he would have responded with some such florid compliment 
as those for which she was accustomed to box the ears of her , 
admirers, and would have swung himself up to the coping, to j 
touch, or at least try to touch, those sweet, fresh, crimson lips / 
of hers, that were like a half-opened damask rose. Modesty ' 
is apt to go to the wall in camps, and poor little Cigarette's 
notions of the great passion were very simple, rudimentarjj 



288 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

and, certes, in no way coy. How should they be ? She had 
tossed about with the army, like one of the tassels to their 
standards, blowing whichever way the breath of war floated 
her, and had experienced, or thought she had experienced, as 
many affaires as the veriest Don Juan among them, thougk 
her heart had never been much concerned in them, but had 
beaten scarce a shade quicker, if a lunge in a duel, or a shot 
from an Indigene had pounced off with her hero of the hour 
k> Hades. 

* Fine manners I ' echoed Cecil, with a smile : * my poor 
child, have you been so buffeted about that you have never 
been treated with commonest courtesy ? ' 

* Whew 1 ' cried the Uttle lady, blowing a puff of smoke 
down on him. ' None of your pity for me, my ci-devant f 
Buffeted about ? Nom du diable I do you suppose anybody 
ever did anything with me that I didn't choose ? If you had 
as much power as I have in the army, Chateauroy would not 
send for you to sell your toys like a pedlar. You are a slave I 

Xam a sovereign ! ' 

With which she tossed back her graceful, spirited head, as 
though the gold band of her cap were the gold band of a 
diadem. She was very proud of her station in the Army of 
Africa, and glorified her privileges with all a child's vanity. 

He listened, amused with her boastful supremacy ; but the 
last words touched him with a certain pang just in that 
moment. He felt like a slave — a slave who must obey his 
tyrant, or go out and die like a dog. 

* Well, yes,' he said, slowly, * I am a slave, I fear. I wish 
a Bedouin flissa would cut my thralls in two.' 

He spoke jestingly, but there was a tinge of sadness in the 
words that touched Cigarette's changeful temper to contrition, 
and filled her with the same compassion and wonder at him 
that she had felt when the ivory wreaths and crucifixes had 
laid in her hands. She knew she had been ungenerous — a 
crime dark as night in the sight of the little chivalrous 
soldier. 

' Tiens ! ' she said, softly and waywardly, winding her 
way aright with that penetration and tact which, however 
unsexed in other things. Cigarette had kept thoroughly 
feminine. ' That was but an idle word of mine : forgive it, 
REid forget it. You are not a slave when you fight in the 
fantaiias. Morbleu ! they say to see you kill a man is beau- 



CIGARETTE EN CONSEIL ET CACHETTE 28<, 

tiful — so workmanlike 1 And you would go out and be shot 
to-morrow, rather than sell your honour, or stain it — eli ? 
Bah ! while you know they should cut your heart out rather 
than make you tell a lie, or betray a comrade, you are no 
slave, my galo7in6 ; you have the best freedom of all. Take 
a glass of champagne ? Prut-tut I how you look ! Oh, the 
demoiselles, with the silver necks, are not barrack drink, of 
course ; but I drink champagne always myself. This is 
M. le Prince's. lie knows I only take the best brands.' 

With which Cigarette leaning down from her casement, 
whose eill was about a foot above his head, tendered her 
peace-ofiering in a bottle of Cliquot, three of which, packed 
in her knapsack, she had carried off from the luncheon-table 
of a Russian Prince, who was touring through Algiers, and 
who had half lost his Grand Ducal head after the bewitch- 
ing, damitless, capricious, unattaohable, unpurchasable, and 
coquettish little fire-eater of the Spahis, who treated hioi 
with infinitely more insolence and indifference than she 
would show to some battered old veteran, or some worn-out 
old dog, who had passed through the great Kabaila raids and 
battles. 

' You will go to your Colonel's to-night ? ' she said 
questioningly, as he drank the champagne, and thanked her 
— for he saw the spirit in which the gift was tendered — aa 
he leaned against the half-ruined Moorish wall, with its blue 
and while striped awning spread over both their heads in the 
little street whose crowds, chatter, thousand eyes, and inces- 
sant traffic no way troubled Cigarette, who had talked argot 
to monarchs undaunted, and who bad been one of the chief 
sights in a hundred grand reviews ever since she had been 
perched on a gun-carriage at five years old, and paraded with 
a troop of horse artillery in the Champ de Mars, as having 
gone through the whole of Bugeaud's campaign, at which 
parade, by-the-way, being tendered sweetmeats by a famous 
General's wife. Cigarette had made the immortal reply, in 
lisping sabir : * Madame^ mes bonbons sont des boulets ! ' ' 

She repeated her question imperiously, as Cecil kept silent : 
* You vdW go to-night ? ' 

He shrugged his shoulders. He did not care to discusa 
his Cclonei's orders with this pretty little Bacchante. 

' Madame, my sweetmeats are bullets I 



290 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

* Oh, a chiefs command, you know- 



A fico for a chief ! ' retorted Cigarette impatiently. * Why 
don't you say the truth ? You are thinking you will disobey, 
and risk the rest ! ' 

* Well, why not ? I grant his right in barrack and field, 
but ' 

He spoke rather to himself than her, and his thoughts, 
as he spoke, went back to the scene of the morning. He 
felt, with a romantic impulse that he smiled at even as it 
passed over him, that he would rather have half a dozen 
muskets fired at him in the death-sentence of a mutineer 
than meet again the glance of those proud azure eyes 
sweep over him, in their calm indifference to a private of 
Chasseurs, their calm ignorance that he could be wounded 
or be stung. 

' But ? ' echoed Cigarette, leaning out of her oval hole, 
perched in the quaint, grey, Moresco wall, parti-coloured with 
broken encaustics of varied hues. * Chtit, hon camarade / 
that little word has been the undoing of the world ever since 
the world began. " But " is a blank cartridge, and never did 
anything but miss fire yet. Shoot dead, or don't aim at all, 
whichever you like ; but never make a cowp vianqud ^ with 
** but I " So you won't obey Chateauroy in this ? ' 

He was silent again. He would not answer falsely, and 
he did not care to say his thoughts to her. 

' " No," ' pursued Cigarette, translating his silence at her 
fancy, * you say to yourself, " I am an aristocrat — I will 
not be ordered in this thing " — you say. " I am a good 
soldier: I will not be sent for like a hawker" — you say. 
** I was noble once : I will show my blood at last, if I die ! " 
Ah ! — you say that ! ' 

He laughed a little as he looked up at her. 

' Not exactly that, but something as foolish perhaps. Are 
you a witch, my pretty one ? ' 

* Whoever doubted it except you ? ' 

She looked one, in truth, whom few men could resist, 
bending to him out of her owl's nest, with the flash of the 
gun under the blue awning brightly catching the sunny brown 
of her soft cheek and the cherry bloom of her lips, arched, 
routing, and coquette> She set her teeth sharply, and mut. 

* False stroke. 



CIGARETTE EN CONSEIL ET CACHETTE 291 

iered a hot, heavy sacr^j or even soDiething worse, aa she saw 
that his eyes had not even remained on her, but were thought' 
fully looking down the checkered light and colour of the street. 
She was passionate, she was vain, she was wayward, she was 
fierce as a little velvet leopard, as a handsome, brilliant, plu- 
maged hawk ; she had all the faults, as she had all the virtues, 
of the thorough Celtic race ; and, for the moment, she had an 
instinct, fiery, ruthless, and full of hate, to draw the pistol 
out of her belt, and teach him with a shot, crash through / 
heart or brain, that girls who were * unsexed ' could keep 
enough of the woman in them not to be neglected with im- 
punity, and could lose enough of it to be able to avenge the 
negligence by a summary vendetta. But she was a haughty 
little condotti^re in her fashion. She would not ask for 
what was not offered her, nor give a rebuke that might be 
traced to mortification. She only set her two rosebud lips in 
as firm a lin-e of wrath and scorn as ever Cesar's or Napo- 
leon's moulded themselves into, and spoke in the curt, im- 
perious, generalissimo fashion with which Cigarette before 
now had rallied a demoraUsed troop, reeling drunk and mad 
away from a razzia. 

' I am a witch 1 That is, I can put two and two together, 
and read men, though I don't read the alphabet. Well, one 
reading is a good deal rarer than the other. So you mean to 
disobey the Hawk to-night ? I like you for that. But listen 
here — did you ever hear them talk of Marquise ? ' 

'No!' 

* Parbleu ! ' swore the vivandi^re in her wrath, ' you look 
on at a bamboula as if it were only a bear-cub dancing, and 
can only give one " yes " and " no " as if one were a drummer- 
boy. Bah ! are those your Paris courtesies ? ' 

' Forgive me, ma belle ! I thought you called yourself 
our comrade, and would have no *' fine manners." There is 
no knowing how to please you.' 

He might have pleased her simply and easily enough if 
he had only looked up with a shade of interest to that most 
picturesque picture, bright aa a pastoral portrait., that was 
hung above him in the old tumbledown Moorish stonework. 
But his thoughts were with other things ; and a love scene 
with this fantastic young Amazon did not attract him. The 
warm, ripe, mellow little wayside cherry hung directly in his 
path, with the sun on its bloom, and the free wind tossing it 

c 3 



292 ^^""t UNDER TWO FLAGS 

/ merrily ; but it had no charm for him. He was miTRing\ 

\ rather on that costly, delicate, brilliant-hued, hothouse bios- \ 

\som that could only be reached down by some rich man's \ 

/band, and grew afar on heights where never winter chills, > 

Inor summer tan, could come too rudely on it. "^ 

* Come, tell me what is Marquise ? — a kitten ? ' he went 
on, leaning his arm still on the sill of her embrasure, and 
willing to coax her out of her anger. 

' A kitten ! ' echoed Cigarette contemptuously, ' You think 
me a child, I suppose ? ' 

* Surely you are not far off it ? * 

* Mon Dieu ! why, I was never a child in my life,' re- 
torted Cigarette, waxing sunny-tempered and confidential 
again, while she perched herself, like some gay-feathered 
mocking-bird on a branch, on the window-sill itself. * When 
I was two I used to be beaten Hke a Turco that pawns his 
musket; when I was three, I used to scrape up the cigar 
ends the officers dropped about to sell them again for a bit of 
hlack bread ; when I was four, I knew all about Philippe 
Durron*s escape from Beylick, and bit my tongue through, to 
say nothing, when my mother flogged me with a tringlo's 
mule-whip, because I would not tell, that she might tell 
again at the Bureau, and get the reward. A child ? — diantre I 
before I was two f'jt high I had winged my first Arbi. He 
stole a rabbit I was roasting. Presto ! how quick he dropped 
it when my ball broke his wrist like a twig.' 

And the Friend of the Flag laughed gaily at the recollec- 
tion, as at the best piece of mirth with which memory could 
furnish her. 

* But you asked about Marquise ? Well, he was what you 
are, a hawk among carrion crows, a gentleman in the ranks. 
Dieu I how handsome he was ! Nobody ever knew his real 
name, but they thought he was of Austrian breed, and we 
called him Marquise because he was so womanish white in 
his skin and so dainty in all his ways. Just like you I Mar- 
quise could fight, fight like a hundred devils; and— pouf ! — 

; how proud he was ; very much like you altogether ! Now, one 
day something went wrong in the exercise-ground. Marquise 

• was not to blame, but they thought he was ; and an adjutant 
struck him — flick, flack, like that — across the face with a 
riding-switch. Marquise had his bayonet fixed — he belonged 
$0 the Turcos — and before we knew what was up. crash the 



CIGARETTE EN CONSEIL ET CACHETTE 293 

blade went through — through the breastbone, and out at the 
spine — and the adjutant fell as dead as a cat, with the blood 
spouting out like a fountain. " I come of a great race, that 
never took insult without giving back death," was all that 
Marquise said when they seized him and brought him to 
judgment; and he would never say of what race that was. 
They shot him — ah, bah 1 discipline must be kept — and I 
saw him with five great wounds in his chest, and his 
beautiful golden hair all soiled with the sand and the powder, 
lying there by the open grave, that they threw him into 
as if he were offal ; and we never knew more of him than 
that.' 

Cigarette's radiant laugh had died, and her careless voice 
had sunk, over the latter words. As the little vivacious 
brimette told the tale of a nameless life, it took its eloquence 
from her, simple and brief as her speech was, and it owned a 
deeper pathos because the reckless young Bacchante of the 
As de Pique grew grave one moment while she told it. Then, 
grave still, she leaned her brown, bright face nearer down 
from htr oval hole in the wall. 

' Now,* she whispered very low, * if you mutiny once, thej 
will shoot you just like Marquise, and you will die just as 
silent, like him.' 

•Well,' he answered her slowly, 'why not? Death is 
no great terror ; I risk it every day for the sake of a common 
soldier's rations, why should I not chance it for the sake and 
in the defence of my honour ? ' 

' Bah ! men sell their honour for their daily bread all 4h« 
world over 1 * said Cigarette with the satire that had treble 
raciness from the slang in which she clothed it. * But it is 
not you alone. See here — one example set on your part, and 
half your regiment will mutiny too. It is bitter work to obey 
the Black Hawk, and if you give the signal of revolt, three 
parts of your comrades will join you. Now what will that 
end in, beau lion — eh ? ' 

' Tell me — you are a soldier yourself, you say.* 

' Yes, I am a soldier 1 ' said Cigarette between her tightest 
teeth, while her eyes lightened, and her voice sank down into 
ft whisper that had a certain terrible meaning in it, like thei., 
first dropping of the scattered opening shots in the distance*, 
before a great battle commences ; ' and I have seen war, not ; 
holiday war, but war in calmest — war when men fall like 



294 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

r 

\ hailstones, and tear like tigers, and choke like mad dogs with 
their throats full of blood and sand ; when the gun-carriage 
wheels go crash over the writhing limbs, and the horses 
charge full gallop over the living faces, and the hoofs beat out 
the brains before death has stunned them senseless. Oh, yes ! 
I am a soldier, and I will tell you one thing I have seen. I 
have seen soldiers mutiny, a squadron of them, because they 
hated their chief and loved two of their sous-officiers ; and I 
have seen the end of it all — a few hundred men, blind and 
drunk with despair, at bay against as many thousands, and 
walled in with four lines of steel and artillery, and fired on 
from a score of cannon-mouths — volley on volley, like the 
thunder — till not one living man was left, and there was only 
a shapeless, heaving, moaning mass, with the black smoke 
over all. That is what I have seen ; you will not make me 
\ see it again ? * 

"^ Her face was very earnest, very eloquent, very dark, and 
tender with thought ; there was a vein of grave, even of in- 
tense feeling, that ran through the significant words to which 
tone and accent lent far more meaning than lay in their mere 
phrases ; the little Bohemian lost her insolence when she 
pleaded for her ' children,' her comrades ; and the mischievous 
1 pet of the camp never treated lightly what touched the France 
I that she loved, the France that alone of all things in her 
( careless life she held in honour and reverence. 

'You will not make me see it again?' she said, once 
more leaning out, with her eyes, thai were like a brown 
brook sparkling deep yet bright in the sun, fixed on him. 
* They would rise at your bidding, and they would be mowed 
down like corn. You vrill not ? ' 
* Never 1 I give you my word.* 

The promise was from his heart. He would have endured 
any indignity, any outrage, rather than have drawn into 
ruin, through him, the fiery, fearless, untutored lives of the 
men who marched, and slept, and rode, and fought, and lay 
in the light of the picket-fires, and swept down through the 
hot sand storms on to the desert foe by his side. Cigarette 
stretched out her hand to him — that tiny brown hand, which, 
small though it was, had looked so burnt and so hard beside 
the delicate, fairy ivory carvings of his workmanship — 
stretched it out with & frank, winning, childlike, soldierlike 
graco. 



CIGARETTE EN CONSEIL ET CACHETTE 295 

* C'est ga, tu es bon soldat I ' ^ 

He bent over the hand she held to his in the courtesy 
natural with him to all her sex, and touched it lightly with 
his lips. 

* Thank you, my little comrade,' he said simply, with the 
graver thought still on him that her relation and her entreaty 
had evoked, ' you have given me a lesson that I shall not be 
qaick to forget.' ^ 

Cigarette was the wildest little bacchanal that ever pirou- \ 
etted for the delight of half a score of soldiers in their shirt- 
sleeves and half-drunk ; she was the most reckless coquette 
that ever made the roll-call of her lovers range from prince- 
marshals to ploughboy conscripts ; she had flirted as far and 
wide as the butterfly flirts with the blossoms it flutters on to 
through the range of a summer-day ; she took kisses, if the 
giver of them were handsome, as readily as a child takes 
sweetmeats at Mardi Gras ; and of feminine honour, feminine 
scruples, feminine delicacy, knew nothing save by such veryV^ 
dim, fragmentary instincts as nature still planted in scant 
growth amid the rank soil and the pestilent atmosphere of 
camp-life. Her eyes had never sunk, her face had neve^J 
flushed, her heart had never panted for the boldest or the 
wildest wooer of them all, from M. le Due's Lauzun-esque 
blandishments to Pouffer-de-Rire's or Miou-Miou's rough over- 
tures ; she had the coquetry of her nation with the audacity 
of a boy. Now only, for the first time, Cigarette coloured 
hotly at the grave, graceful, distant salute, so cold and so 
courteous, which was offered her in lieu of the rude and bois- 
terous familiarities to which she was accustomed ; and drew 
her hand away with what was, to the shame of her soldierly 
hardihood and her barrack tutelage, very nearly akin to an 
impulse of shyness. 

' Dam ! Ne me donnez de la gabatine / ^ I am not a 
court lady, hon-zig I ' she cried hastily, almost petulantly, 
to cover the unwonted and unwelcome weakness ; while, to 
make good the declaration and revindicate her military re- 
nown, she balanced herself lightly on the stone ledge of he* 
oval hole, and sprang, with a young wildcat's easy, vaulting 
leap, over his head, and over the heads of the people beneath, 

• That's right 1 You are a true soldier. 
' Stufi ! Don't humbug me. 



206 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

on to the ledge of the house opposite, a low-built wine-shop, 
whose upper story nearly touched the leaning walls of the old 
Moorish buildings in which she had been perched. The crowd 
in the street below looked up amazed and aghast at that bound 
from casement tc casement as she flew over their heads like a 
blue-and-scarlet-winged bird of Oran; but they laughed as 
they saw who it was. 

* It is Cigarette ! ' growled a Turco Indigene. ' Ah-ha ! the 
devil, for a certainty, must have been her father ! * 

* To be sure ! ' cried the Friend of the Flag, looking from 
her elevation ; ' he is a very good father, too, and I don't tease 
him Hke his sons the priests ! But I have told him to take 
you, Ben Arsli, the next time you are stripping a dead body ; 
so look out — he won't have to wait long.' 

The discomfited Indigene hustled his way, with many an 
oath, through the laughing crowd as best he might, and Cigar- 
ette, with an airy pirouette on the wine-shop's roof that would 
have done honour to any opera boards, and was executed as 
carelessly, twenty feet above earth, as if she had been a panto- 
mime-dancer all her days, let herself down by the awning, 
hand over hand like a little mousse from the harbour, jumped 
on to a forage- wagon that was just passing full trot down the 
street, and disappeared, standing on the piles of hay, and 
singing to the driving tringWs unutterable delight the stanzas 
of Beranger's * InfideliUs de Lisette ; ' her lithe, slender, 
miniature form, with its flash of gold on the breast, and its 
strip of rich scarlet in the fluttering sash, rising out against 
the blue and burning sky, the glare of the white walls, and 
the dusky glow and movement of the ebbing and flowing 
crowd. 

Cecil looked after her with a certain touch of pity for her 
in him. 

* What a gallant boy is spoilt in that little Amazon ! ' he 
thought ; the quick flush of her face, the quick withdrawal 
of her hand, he had not noticed ; she had not much interest 
for him — scarcely any, indeed — save that he saw she was 
pretty, with a mignonne mischievous face, that all the sun- 
tan of Africa and all the wild life of the Caserne could not 
harden or debase. But he was sorry a child so bright and so 
brave should be turned into three parts a trooper as she was, 
should have been tossed up on the scum and filth of the lowest 
barrack life, and should be doomed in a few years' time to 



CIGARETTE EN CONSEIL ET CACHETTE 297 

become the yellow, battered, foul-mouthed, vulture-eyed camp- 
follower that premature old age would surely render the dar- 
ling of the tricolor, the pythoness of the As de Pique. 

Cigarette was making scorn of her doom of Sex, dancing it 
down, drinking it down, laughing it down, burning it out in 
tobacco fumes, drowning it in trembling cascades of wine, 
trampling it to dust under the cancan by her little brass- 
bound boots, mocking it away with her slang jests, and her 
Theresa songs, and her devil-may-care audacities, till therd 
was scarce a trace of it left in this prettiest and wildest littl« 
scamp of all the Army of Africa. But strive to kill it how 
she would, her sex would have its revenge one day and play 
Nemesis to her. -r 

She was bewitching now — bewitching, though she had no 
witchery for him, in her youth. But when the bloom should 
leave her brown cheeks, and the laughter die out of her 
lightning glance, the womanhood she had defied would assert 
itself, and avenge itself, and be hideous in the sight of the 
men who now loved the tinkling of those little spurred feet, 
and shouted with applause to hear the reckless barrack-blas- 
phemies ring their mirth from that fresh mouth which wa« 
now like a bud from a damask rose branch, though even now 
it steeped itself in wine, and sulhed itself with oaths, and 
geared itself with smoke, and had never been touched from 
its infancy with any kiss that was innocent, not even with its 
mother's. 

And there was a deep tinge of pity for her in Cecil's though ti 
as he watched her out of sight, and then strolled across to th« 
cafe opposite to finish his cigar beneath its orange- striped 
awning. The child had been flung upward, a little straw 
floating in the gutter of Paris iniquities ; a little foam-beU 
bubbling on the sewer waters of barrack--vice ; the stick had 
been her teacher, the baggage-wagon her cradle, the camp- 
dogs her playfellows, the caserne ^ oaths her lullaby, the 
guidons * her sole guiding- stars, the razzia ' her sole fete day ; 
it was httle marvel that the bright, bold, insolent little Friend 
of the Flag had nothing left of her sex save a kitten's mischief 
and a coquette's archness. It said much rather for the straight, 
fair, sunlit instincts of the untaught nature that Cigarette had 
gleaned, even out of such a life, two virtues that she would 

* Barraok. ' Standarde. * BaicL 



296 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

have held by to the death, if tried : a truthfulness that would 
have scorned a lie as only fit for cowards, and a loyalty that 
cleaved to France as a religion. 

Cecil thought that a gallajit boy was spoiled in this eighteen 
year old brunette of a campaigner ; he might have gone further, 
and said that a hero was lost. 

' Voil^ ! ' said Cigarette between her little teeth. 
She stood in the glittering Algerine night, brilliant with a 
million stars, and balmy with a million flowers, before the 
bronze trellised gate of the villa on the Sahel, where Chateau- 
roy, when he was not on active service — whi^h chanced rarely, 
for he was one of the finest soldiers and most daring chiefs in 
Africa — indemnified himself with the magnificence that his 
private fortune enabled him to enjoy, for the unsparing exer- 
tions and the rugged privations that he always shared wil- 
; Hngly with the lowest of his soldiers. It was the grandest 
j trait in the man's character that he utterly scorned the eil'emi- 
! nacy which many commanders provided for their table, their 
' comfort, and their gratification while campaigning, and would 
commonly neither take himself nor allow to his oificers any 
more indulgence on the march than his troopers themselves 
enjoyed. But his villa on the Sahel was a miniature palace ; 
it had formerly been the harem of a great Rais, and the gardens 
were as enchanting as the interior was, if something florid, still 
as elegant as Paris art and Paris luxury could make it ; for 
ferocious as the Black Hawk was in war, and well as he loved 
the chase and the slaughter, he did not disdain, when he had 
whetted beak and talons to satiety, to smooth his rufiied 
plumage in downy nests and under caressing hands. 

To-night the windows of the pretty, low, snow-white, far 
stretching building were lighted and open, and through the 
wilderness of cactus, myrtle, orange, citron, fuchsia, and a 
thousand flowers that almost buried it under their weight of 
leaf and blossom, a myriad of lamps were gleaming like so 
many glowworms beneath the foliage, while from a cedar 
grove some shght way farther out, the melodies and overtures 
of the best military bands in Algiers came mellowed, though 
not broken, by the distance and the fall of the bubbling foun- 
tains. Cigarette looked and listened, and her gay brown face 
grew duskily warm with wrath. 

' Ah, bah ! ' she muttered as she pressed her pretty lips to 
the lattice-work. ' The men die like murrained sheep in the 



CIGARETTE EN CONSEIL ET CACHETTE 299 

hospital, and get sour bread tossed to them as if they were pigs,"^ 
ajid are thrashed if they pawn their muskets for a stoup of 
drink when their throats are as dry as the desert — and you live 
like a coq en pdte ! ^ Morbleu ! what fools the people are to 
fight, and toil, and get their limbs broken, and have their 
brains dashed out by spent balls, that M. le Marechal may 
send home a grand story with his own name flaring in letters 
a yard long on the placards, and M. le Colonel gives his fetes 
with stars and ribbons on his breast, while those who won the 
battle lie rotting in the sand ! ' *^ i' -^ 

Cigarette was a resolute little democrat ; she had loaded the ^"^'-^ 
carbines behincHlie barricade in an emeute in Paris before she 
was ten years old, and was not seldom in the perplexity of 
conflicting creeds when her loyalty to the tricolor and the 
guidons smote with a violent clash on her love for the popu- 
lace and their liberty. She was given, however, usually to 
reconciling the dilemma with all her sex's illogical ingenuity, 
and so far thoroughly carried out her republicanism that she 
boxed a Prmce's ear without ceremony when one tried to sub- 
jugate her, and never by any chance veiled the sun of her 
smiles to her ' children,' the troopers — not even when she 
was tired to death after a burning march across leagues on 
leagues of locust-wasted country, or had spent half the night, 
after a skirmish, dressing wounds, soothing fever, seeking out 
the dying men who lay scattered on the outskirts of the field 
of carnage, with a magic, and a sweetness, and a patience that 
seemed rather fitting for the gentle Sosurs Grises than for the 
wayward, mischievous, insolent young reveller of the As de 
Pique. 

She looked a moment longer through the gilded scrollwork ; 
then, as she had done once before, thrust her pistols well within 
her sash that they should not catch upon the boughs, and 
pushing herself through the prickly cactus hedge, impervious 
k) anything save herself or a Barbary marmoset, t"wisted with 
marvellous ingenuity through the sharp-pointed leaves, and 
the close barriers of spines, and launched herself with inimi- 
table dexterity on to the other side of the cacti. Cigarette 
had too often played a game at spying and reconnoitring for 
her regiments, and played it with a cleverness that distanced 
even the most rusi of the Zephyrs, not to be able to do just 

^ In oloyer. 



300 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

whatever she chose, in taking the way she liked, and lurking 
unseen at discretion. 

She crossed the breadth of the grounds under the heavy 
shade of arbutus- trees with a hare's fleetness, and stood a 
second looking at the open windows and the terraces that lay 
before them, brightly lighted by the summer moon and by 
the lamps that sparkled among the shrubs. Then down 
she dropped, as quickly, as lightly, as a young setter down 
charging among the ferns, into a shower of rhododendrons, 
whose rose and lilac blossoms shut her wholly within them 
like a fairy inclosed in bloom. The good fairy of one life 
there she was assuredly, though she might be but a devil- 
may-care, audacious, careless little feminine Belphegor and 
military Asmodeus. 

' Ah 1 ' she said, quickly and sharply, with a deep-drawn 
breath. The single ejaculation was at <^nce a menace, a 
tenderness, a whirlwind of rage, a volume of disdain, a world 
of pity. It was intensely French, and the whole nature of 
Cigarette was in it. 

Yet all she saw was a small and brilliant group sauntering 
to and fro before the open windows, after dinner, listening to 
the bands, which, through dinner, had played to them, and 
laughing low and softly ; and, at some distance from them, 
beneath the shade of a cedar, the figure of a Corporal of 
Chasseurs, calm, erect, motionless, as though he were the 
figure of a soldier cast in bronze. The scene was simple 
enough, though very picturesque; but it told, by its vivid 
force of contrast, a whole history to Cigarette. 

* A true soldier 1 ' she muttered, where she lay among the 
rhododendrons, while her eyes grew very soft, as she gave the 
highest word of praise that her whole range of language held. 
* A true soldier I How he keeps his promise I But it must 
be bitter I ' 

She looked awhile, very wistfully, at the Chasseur, where 
he stood under the Lebanon boughs ; then her glance swept 
bright as a hawk's over the terrace, and lighted with a pre- 
scient hatred on the central form of all — a woman's. There 
were two other great ladies there ; but she passed them, and 
darted with unerring instinct on that proud, fair, patrician 
head, with its haughty stag-like cp.rriage and the crown of its 
golden hair. 

Cigarette had seen grandes dames by the thousand, though 



CIGARETTE EN CONSEIL ET CACHETTE 301 

never very close ; seen them in Paris, when they came to 
look on at a grand review ; seen them in their court attire, 
when the Guides had filled the Carrousel on some palace ball 
night, and lined the Cour des Princes, and she had bewitched 
the officers of the guard into letting her pass in to see the 
pageantry. But she had never felt for those grandes dames any- 
thing save a considers bly contemptuous indifference. She had 
looked on them pretty much as a war-worn, powder-tried veteran 
looks on the curled dandy of some fashionable, home- staying 
corps. She had never realised the difference betwixt them 
and herself, save in so far as she thought them useless butter- 
flies, worth nothing at all, and laughed as she triumphantly 
remembered how she could shoot a man like any Tirailleur, 
and break in a colt Uke any rough rider. rA^^ 

Now, for the first time, the sight of one of those aristocrats ^ 
gmote her with a keen hot sting of heart-burning jealousy. 
Now, for the first time, the little Friend of the Flag looked 
at all the nameless graces of rank with an envy that her 
sunny, gladsome, generous nature had never before been 
touched with — with a sudden perception, quick as thought, 
bitter as gall, wounding, and swift, and poignant, of what 
this womanhood, that he had said she herself had lost, might 
be in its highest and purest shape. 

* Unsexed — he said I was unsexed,* she mused, while her 
teeth clinched on the ruby fulness of her lips, and her heart 
swelled, half with impotent rage, half with unconfessed pain. 
For the first time, looking on this imperial foreign beauty, 
sweeping so slowly and so idly along there in the Algerian 
starlight, she understood all that he had missed, all that he 
had meant, when he had used that single word, for which 
she had vowed on him her vengeance and the vengeance of 
the Army of Africa. 

* If those are the women that he knew before he came 
here, I do not wonder that he never cared to watch even my 
bamboula,' was the latent, unacknowledged thought that was 
so cruel to her ; the consciousness — which forced itself in on 
her, while her eyes jealously followed the perfect grace of the 
one in whom instinct had found her rival — that, while she 
had been so proud of her recklessness, and her devilry, and 
her trooper's slang, and her deadly skill as a shot, she had 
only been something very worthless, something very lightly 
held by those who liked her for a ribald jest, and a guin- 



302 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

guette dance, and a Spahi's supper of headlong riot and drunken 
mirth. 

The mood did not last. She was too brave, too fiery, too 
dauntless, too untamed. The dusky angry flush upon her 
face grew deeper, and the passion gathered more stormily in 
her eyes, while she felt the pistol butts in her sash, and 
laughed low to herself, where she lay stretched under her 
flowery nest. 

' Bah ! she would faint, I dare say, at the mere sight of 
these,' she thought, with her old disdain, * and would stand 
fire no more than a gazelle ! They are only made for summer- 
day weather, those dainty, gorgeous, silver pheasants. A 
breath of war, a touch of tempest, would soon beat them down 
,3— crash ! — with all their proud crest drooping ! ' 
/ Like many another, Cigarette underrated what she had no 
j knowledge of, and depreciated an antagonist the measure of 
^hose fence she had no power to gauge. 

Crouched there among the rhododendrons, she lay as still as 
a mouse, moving nearer and nearer, though none would have 
told that so much as a lizard even stirred under the blossoms, 
until her ear, quick and unerring as an Indian's, could detect 
the sense of the words spoken by that group, which so aroused 
all the hot ire of her warrior's soul and her democrat's im- 
patience. Chateauroy himself was bending his fine dark head 
towards the patrician on whom her instinct of sex had fastened 
her hatred. 

* You expressed your wish to see my Corporal's little 
sculptures again, madame,' he was murmuring now, as Cigar- 
ette got close enough under her flower shadows to catch the 
sense of the words. * To hear was to obey with me. He 
waits your commands yonder.' 

' Mille tonneres ! It was you, was it, brought him here ? * 
muttered the Friend of the Flag to herself, with the passion 
in her burning more hotly against that ' silver pheasant,' 
whose delicate train was sweeping the white marbles of 
Chateauroy's terraces, and whose reply, ' with fashion, not 
with feeling, softly freighted,' she lost, though she could 
guess what it had been, when a lackey crossed the lawn, and 
summoned the Chasseur from his waiting-place beneath the 
cedars. 

Cecil obeyed, passed up the terrace stairs, and stood before 
his Colonel, giving the salute ; the shade of some acacias still 



CIGARETTE EN CONSEIL ET CACHETTE 303 

fell across him, while the party he fronted were in all the 
glow of a full Algerian moon, and of the thousand lamps 
among the belt of flowers and trees. Cigarette gave another 
sharp deep-drawn breath, and lay as mute and motionless as 
she had done before then, among the rushes of some dried 
brook's bed, scanning a hostile camp, when the fate of a 
handful of French troops had rested on her surety and her 
caution. 

Chateauroy spoke with a carelessness as of a man to a dog, 
turning to his Corporal. 

' Victor, Madame la Princesse honours you with the desire 
to see your toys again. Spread them out.' 

The savage authority of his general speech was softened for 
the sake of his guest's presence, but there was a covert tone in 
the words that made Cigarette murmur to herself : 

* If he forget his promise; I will forgive him ! ' 

Cecil had not forgotten it ; neither had he forgotten the 
lesson that this fair aristocrate had read him in the morning. 
He saluted his chief again, set the chessbox down upon the 
ledge of the marble buiustrade, and stood silent, without once 
glancing at the fair and haughty face that was more brilliant 
still in the African starlight than it had been in the noon sun 
of the Chasseurs' Chambree. Courtesy was forbidden him as 
insult from a corporal to a nobly born beauty ; he no more 
quarrelled with the decree than wdth other inevitable conse- 
quences, inevitable degradations, that followed on his entrance 
as a private under the French flag. He had been used to tliel^j^i 
impassable demarcations of Caste, he did not dispute themrs/-' 
more now that he was without, than he had done when! ) 
within, their magic pale. -^ 

The carvings were passed from hand to hand as the Marquis's Vyj^* 
six or eight guests, listlessly willing to be amused in the ^ g 
warmth of the evening after their dinner, occupied themselves V, 
with the ivory chess armies, cut with a skill and a finish ^ 
worthy a Roman studio. Praise enough was awarded to the •-"'^ 
art, but none of them remembered the artist who stood apart, 
grave, calm, with a certain serene dignity that could not be 
degraded because others chose to treat him as the station he 
filled gave them fit right to do. 

Only one glanced at him with a touch of wondering pity, 
softening her pride ; she who had rejected the gift of those 
mimic squadrons. 



304 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

' You were surely a sculptor, once ? * she asked him with 
that graceful distant kindness which she might have showa 
some Arab outcast. 

' Never, madame.' 

* Indeed ! Then who taught you such exquisite art ? * 
'It cannot claim to be called art, madame.' 

She looked at him with an increased interest : the accent of 
his voice told her that this man, whatever he might be now, 
had once been a gentleman. 

* Oh, yes ; it is perfect of its kind. Who was your master 
m it ? ' 

* A common teacher, madame — Necessity.' 

There was a very sweet gleam of compassion in the lustre 
of her dark dreaming eyes. 

* Does necessity often teach so well ? * 

' In the ranks of our army, madame, I think it does ; often 
indeed much better.' 

Chateauroy had stood by and heard, with as much impa- 
tience as he cared to show before guests whose rank waa 
precious to the man who had still weakness enough to be 
ashamed that his father's brave and famous life had first been 
cradled under the thatch roof of a little posting-house. 

* Victor knows that neither he nor his men have any right 
to waste their time on such trash,' he said carelessly; 'but 
the truth is they love the canteen so well that they will do 
anything to add enough to their pay to buy brandy.' 

She whom he had called Madame la Princesse looked with 
% doubting surprise at the sculptor of the white Arab King 
she held. 

* That man does not care for brandy,' she thought. 

* It must be a solace to many a weary hour in the barracks 
to be able to produce such beautiful trifles as these,' she said 
aloud. ' Surely you encourage such pursuits, monsieur I ' 

* Not I,* said Chateauroy, with a dash of his camp tone 
that he could not withhold. ' There are but two arts or 
virtues for a trooper to my taste — fighting and obedience.' 

* You should be in the Russian service, M. de Chateauroy,' 
said the lady with a smile, that, slight as it was, made the 
Marquis's eyes flash fire. 

' Almost I wish I had been,' he answered her ; * men are 
aaade to keep their grades there, and privates who think them- 
selves fine gentlemen receive the lash they merit.' 



CIGARETTE EN CONSEIL ET CACHETTE 305 

* How he hates his Corporal 1 ' thought Miladi, while she 
laid aside the White King once more. 

'Nay,' interposed Chateauroy, recovering his momentary 
self-abandonment, * since you like the bagatelles, do me honour 
enough to keep them.' 

' Oh, no, I offered your soldier his own price for them this 
morning, and he refused any.' 

Chateauroy swung round. 

' Ah, sacripant ! you dared refuse your bits of ivory when 
you were honoured by an offer for them.' 

Cecil stood silent ; his eyes met his chief's steadily ; Cha- 
teauroy had seen that look when his Chasseur had bearded 
him in the sohtude of his tent, and demanded back the Pearl 
of the Desert. 

The Princess glanced at both ; then she stooped her elegant 
head slightly to the Marquis. 

' Do not blame your Corporal unjustly through me, I pray 
you. He refused any price, but he offered them to me very 
gracefully as a gift, though of course it was not possible that 
I should accept them so.' 

' The man is the most insolent larron in the service,* 
muttered her host, as he motioned Cecil back off the terrace. 
' Get you gone, sir, and leave your toys here, or I will have 
them broken up by a hammer.' 

The words were low, that they should not offend the ears 
of the great ladies who were his Usteners, but they were 
coarsely savage in their whispered command, and the Princess 
heard them. 

* He has brought his Chasseur here only to humiliate him,* 
thought Miladi with the same thought that flashed through 
the mind of the Kttle Friend of the Flag where she hid 
among her rhododendrons. Now the dainty aristocrat was 
very proud, but she was not so proud but that justice was 
stronger in her than pride, and a noble generous temper 
mellowed the somewhat too cold and languid negligence of 
one of the fairest and haughtiest women that ever adorned a 
court. She was too generous not to rescue any one who 
Buffered through her the slightest injustice, not to interfere 
when through her any misconception lighted on another ; she 
told with her sex's rapid perception and sympathy that the 
man, whom Chateauroy addressed with the brutal insolence of 
a bully to his disobedient dog, had once bcc^n a gentleman, 



306 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

though he now held but the rank of a sous-officier in the 
Algerian Cavalry, and she saw that he suffered all the more 
keenly under an outrage he had no power to resist because of 
that enforced serenity, that dignity of silence and of patience, 
with which he stood before his tyrant. 

' V7ait,' she said, moving a little towards them, while she 
let her eyes rest on the carver of the sculptures with a grave 
compassion, though she addressed his chief. * You wholly 
mistake me. I laid no blame whatever on your Corporal. 
Let him take the chessmen back with him ; I would on no 
account rob him of them. I can well understand that he does 
not care to part with such masterpieces of his art ; and thai 
he would not appraise them by their worth in gold only shows 
that he is a true artist, as doubtless also he is a true soldier.' 

I^he words were spoken with a gracious courtesy, the clear 
cold tone of her habitual manner just marking in them still 
the difference of caste between her and the man for whom she 
interceded, as she would equally have interceded lor a dog 
who should have been threatened with the lash because he 
had displeased her. That very tone struck a sharper blow to 
Cecil than the insolence of his commander had power to deal 
him. His face flushed a little ; he lifted his cap to her with 
a grave reverence, and moved away. 

* I thank you, madam. Keep them, if you will so far 
honour me.' 

The words reached only her ear, in another instant he had 
passed away down the terrace steps, obedient to his chief's 
dismissal. 

* Ah ! have no kind scruples in keeping them, madame,' 
Chateauroy laughed to her, as she still held in her hand, doubt- 
fully, the White Sheik of the chess Arabs ; * I will see that 
Bel-^-faire-peur, as they call him, does not suffer by losing 
these trumperies, which, I believe, old Zist-et-Zest, a veteran 
of ours and a wonderful carver, had really far more to do with 
producing than he. You must not let your gracious pity be 
moved by such fellows as these troopers of mine ; they are the 
most ingenious rascals in the world, and know as well how to 
produce a dramatic effect in your presence as they do how to 
drink and to swear when they are out of it.' 

' Very possibly,' she said, with an indolent indifference ; 
* but that man was no actor, and I never saw a gentleman if 
be have not been one.' 



(Vs^" CIGARETTE EN CONSEIL ET CACHETTE 307 ^^ 

* Like enough,' answered the Marquis. * I believe mauy^ 
" gentlemen " come in our ranks who have fled their native 
countries and broken all laws, from the Decalogue to the Code 
Napoleon. So long as they fight well, we don't ask their 
past criminahties. We cannot afford to throw away a good 
sabi-eur because he has made his own land too hot to hold 
him.' ^ 

' Of what country is your Corporal, then ? * 

' I have not an idea. I imagine his past must have been 
something very black indeed, for the slightest trace of it has 
never, that I know of, been allowed to let slip from him. He 
encourages the men in everj^ insubordination, buys their favour 
with every sort of stage trick, thinks himself the finest gentle- 
man in the whole brigades of Africa, and ought to have been 
shot long ago if he had had his real deserts.' 

She let her glance dwell on him with a contemplation that 
was half contemptuous amusement, half unexpressed dissent. 

' I wonder he has not been, since you have the ruling of 
his fate,' she said, with a slight smile lingering about the 
proud rich softness of her lips. 

* So do I.' 

There was a gaunt, grim, stern significance in the three 
monosyllables that escaped him unconsciously ; it made her 
turn and look at him more closely. 

' How has he offended you ? ' she asked. 

Chateauroy laughed off the question. 

' In a thousand ways, madame. Chiefly because I received 
my regimental training under one who foDowed the traditions 
of the Armies of Egypt and the Rhine, and have, I confess, 
little tolerance, in consequence, of a rebel who plays the 
martyr, and a soldier who is too effeminate an idler to do any- 
thing except attitudinise in interesting situations to awaken 
sympathy.' 

She hstened with something of distaste upon her face where 
Bhe still leaned against the marble balustrade toying with the, 
ivory Bedouins. 

' I am not much interested in military discussions,' she 
said, coldly, * but I imagine — if you will pardon me for saying 
so — that you do your Corporal some little injustice here. I 
should not fancy he " affects " anything, to judge from the very 
good tone of his manners. For the rest, I shall not keep the 
chessmen without making him fitting payment for them ; 

xQ 



3o8 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

since he declines money, you will tell me what form that had 
better take to be of real and welcome service to a Chasseur 
d'Afrique.' 

Chateauroy, more incensed than he chose or dared to show, 
bowed courteously, but with a grim ironic smile. 

' If you really insist, give him a napoleon or two whenever 
you see him ; he will be very happy to take it and spend it 
au cabaret, though he played the aristocrat to-day. But you 
are too good to him ; he is one of the very worst of my pra- 
tiques, and you are as cruel to me in refusing to deign to 
accept my trooper's worthless bagatelles at my hands.' 

She bent her superb head silently, whether in acquiescence 
or rejection he could not well resolve with himself, and turned 
to the staff-officers, among them the heir of a princely semi- 
royal French House, who surrounded her, and sorely begrudged 
the moments she had given to those miniature carvings and 
the private soldier who had wrought them. She was no co- 
quette ; she was of too imperial a nature, had too lofty a pride, 
and was too difficult to charm or to enchain ; but those medi- 
tative, brilliant, serene eyes had a terrible gift of wakening 
without ever seeking love, and of drawing without ever recom- 
pensing homage. 

Couched down among her rose-hued covert. Cigarette had 
watched and heard, her teeth set tightly, her breath coming 
and going swiftly, her hand clinched close on the butts of her 
pistols, fiery curses, with all the infinite variety in cursing of 
a barrack ripertoire, chasing one another in hot fast mutterings 
off those bright lips, that should have known nothing except 
a child's careless and innocent song. 

* Comme elle est belle I comme elle est belle I * she whispered 
every now and then to herself, with a new, bitter, ferocious 
meaning in the whisper that had, with all its hate, something 
pathetic too. She had never looked at a beautiful high-bred 
woman before, holding them in gay satirical disdain as mere 
papillons roitants who could not prime a revolver and fire it off 
to save their own lives, if ever such need arose ; a depth of 
ignorance that was, to the vivandi^re's view, the ne plus ultra 
of crassitude and impotence. But now she studied one through 
all the fine, quickened, unerring instincts of jealousy ; and 
there is no instinct in the world that gives such thorough ap- 
preciation of the very rival it reviles. She saw the courtly 
negligence, the regal grace, the fair brilliant loveliness, the 



CIGARETTE EN CONSEIL ET CACHETTE 309 

delicious serene languor, of a pure ' aristocrate ' for the very 
first time to note them, and they made her heart sick with a 
new and deadly sense ; they moved her much as the whifcp 
delicate carvings of the lotus-lilies and the lentiscus-leaves 
had done ; they, like the carvings, showed her all she had 
missed. She dropped her head suddenly, like a wounded bird, 
and the racy vindictive camp-oaths died off her lips. She 
thought of herself as she had danced that mad Bacchic bam- 
bmila amid the crowd of shouting, stamping, drunken, half- 
infuriated soldiery, and for the moment she hated herself more 
even than she hated that patrician yonder. 

* I know what he meant tioio I ' she pondered, and her 
spirited, sparkling, brunette face was dark and weary, like a 
brown sun -lightened brook over whose radiance the heavy 
shadow of some broad-spread eagle's wings hovers, hiding 
the sun. 

She looked once, twice, thrice, more inquiringly, envyingly, 
thii'stily ; then, as the band under the cedars rolled out their 
music afresh, and light laughter echoed to her from the terrace, 
she turned and wound herself back under the cover of the 
shrubs, not joyously and mischievously as she had come, but 
almost as slowly, almost as sadly, as a hare that the grey- 
hounds have coursed drags itself through the grasses and 
ferns. 

Once through the cactus hedge her old spirit returned ; she 
shook herself angrily with petulant self- scorn ; she swore a 
little, and felt that the fierce familiar words did her good like 
brandy poured down her throat ; she tossed her head like a 
colt that rebels against the gall of the curb ; then, fleet as a 
fawnj she dashed down the moonlit road at topmost speed, 
'^iantre I she can't do what I do ! ' she thought. 

And she ran the faster, and sang a drinking-song of the 
Spahis all the louder, because still at her heart a dull pain 
waa aching. 



3IO UNDER TWO FLAGS 



CHAPTER XXI 

OIGABETTE EN OONDOTTIERA 

Cigarette always went fast. She had a birdlike way of 
skimming her ground that took her over it with wonderful 
swiftness, all the tassels and ribbon knots, and sashes with 
which her uniform was rendered so gay and so distinctive 
fluttering behind her, and her little military boots, with the 
bright spurs twinkling, flying over the earth too lightly for a 
speck of dust, though it lay thick as August suns could parch 
it, to rest upon her. Thus she went now, along the lovely 
moonlight, singing her drinking-song so fast and so loud that 
had it been any other than this young fire-eater of the African 
squadrons, it might have been supposed she sang out of fear 
and bravado — two things, however, that never touched Ciga- 
rette; for she exulted in danger as friskly as a youn* 
salmon exults in the first fresh, crisp, tumbUng crest of a sea- 
wave, and would have backed up the most vainglorious word 
she could have spoken with the cost of her life, had need 
been. Suddenly, as she went she heard a shout on the still 
night air — very' still now, that the lights, and the melodies, 
and the laughter of Chateauroy's villa lay far behind, and the 
town of Algiers was yet distant, with its lamps gUttering 
down by the sea. 

The shout was, ' A moi, Boumis I Pour la France ! * And 
Cigarette knew the voice, ringing melodiously and calmly 
still, though it gave the sound of alarm. 

' Cigarette au secour I ' she cried in answer ; she had cried 
it many a time over the heat of battlefields, and when the 
wounded men in the dead of the sickly night writhed under 
the knife of the camp-thieves. If she had gone hke the wind 
before, she went like the lightning now. 

A few yards onward she saw a confused knot of horses and 
of riders struggling one with another in a cloud of wliite dust 
silvery and hazy in the radiance of the moon. 

The centre figure was Cecil's ; the four others were Arabs, 
armed to the teeth and mad with drink, who had spent the 
whole day in drunken debauchery, pouring raki down their 



CIGARETTE EN CONDOTTIERA 311 

throats until they were wild with its poisonous fire, and had 
darted headlong all abreast down out of the town, overriding 
all that came in their way, and lashing their poor beasts with 
their sabres till the horses' flanks ran blood. Just as they 
neared Cecil, they had knocked aside and trampled over a 
worn-out old colon, of age too feeble for him to totter in time 
from their path. Cecil had reined up and shouted to them 
to pause ; they, inflamed with the perilous drink, and sense- 
less with the fury which seems to possess every Arab once 
started in a race neck to neck, were too blind to see, and too 
furious to care, that they were faced by a soldier of France, 
but rode down on him at once, with their curled sabres flash- 
ing round their heads. His horse stood the shock gallantly, 
and he sought at first only to parry their thrusts and to cut 
through their stallions' reins ; but the latter were chain bridles, 
and only notched his sword as the blade struck them, and 
the former became too numerous and too savagely dealt to be 
easily played with m carte and tierce. The Arabs were dead- 
drunk, he saw at a glance, and had got the bloodthirst upon 
them ; roused and burning with brandy and raki, these men 
were like tigers to deal with ; the words he had spoken they 
never heard, and their horses hemmed him in powerless, 
while their steel flashed on every side ; — they were not of the 
tribe of the Khalifa. 

If he struck not, and struck not surely, he saw that a few 
moments more of that moonlight night were all that he would 
Uve. He wished to avoid bloodshed, both because his sym- 
pathies were always with the conquered tribes, and because 
he knew that every one of these quarrels and combats between 
the vanquisher and the vanquished served further to widen 
the breach, already broad enough, between them. But it was 
no longer a matter of choice with him, as his shoulder was 
grazed by a thrust which, but for a swerve of his horse, would 
have pierced to his lungs ; and the four riders, yelling like 
madmen, forced the animal back on his haunches, and assaulted 
him with breathless violence. He swept his own arm back, 
and brought his sabre down straight through the sword-arm 
of the foremost ; the limb was cleft through as if the stroke 
of an axe had severed it, and, thrice infuriated, the Arabs 
closed in on him. The points of their weapons were piercing 
his harness when, sharp and pwift, one on another, three shots 
hissed past him ; the nearest of his assailants fell stone dead, 



3ia UNDER TWO FLAGS 

and the others, wounded and startled, loosed their hold, shook 
their reins, and tore off down the lonely road, while the dead 
man's horse, shaking his burden from him out of the stirrups, 
followed them at a headlong gallop through a cloud of dust. 

* That was a pretty cut through the arm ; better had it 
been through the throat. Never do things by halves, ami 
Victor,' said Cigarette carelessly, as she thrust her pistols 
back into her sash, and looked, with the tranquil appreciation 
of a connoisseur, on the brown, brawny, naked limb, where 
it lay severed on the sand, with the hilt of the weapon still 
hanging in the sinewy fingers. Cecil threw himself from his 
saddle and gazed at her in bewildered amazement ; he had 
thought that those sure, cool, death-dealing shots had come 
from some Spahis or Chasseur. 

* I owe you my life ! ' he said rapidly. * But — good God ! 
you have shot the fellow dead ' 

Cigarette shrugged her shoulders with a contemptuous 
glance at the Bedouin's corpse. 

* To be sure — I am not a bungler.' 

' Happily for me, or I had been where he lies now. But 
wait — let me look ; there may be breath in him yet.' 

Cigarette laughed, offended and scornful, as with the offence 
and scorn of one whose first science was impeached. 

* Pas si bete ! Look and welcome ; but if you find any 
life in that Arbi, make a laugh of it before all the army to- 
morrow.* 

She was at her fiercest. A thousand new emotions had 
been roused in her that night, bringing pain with them, that 
she bitterly resented ; and, moreover, this child of the Army 
of Africa caught fire at the flame of battle with instant con- 
tagion, and had seen slaughter around her from her first 
infancy. 

Cecil, disregarding her protest, stooped and raised the fallen 
Bedouin. He saw at a glance that she was right ; the lean, 
dark, lustful face was set in the rigidity of death ; the bullet 
had passed straight through the temples. 

' Did you never see a dead man before ? ' demanded Ciga- 
rette impatiently, as he lingered ; — even in this moment ha 
had more thought of this Arbico than he had of her ! 

He laid the Arab's body gently down, and looked at her 
with a glance that, rightly • or wrongly, she thought had a 
rebuke in it. 



CIGARETTE EN CONDOTTIERA 313 

* Very many. But — it is never a pleasant sight. And 
they were in drink ; they did not know what they did.' 

* Pardieu ! What divine pity ! G-ood powder and ball 
were sore wasted, it seems ; you would have preferred to lie 
there yourself, it appears. I beg your pardon for interfering 
with the preference.' 

Her eyes were flashing, her lips very scornful and wrath- 
ful. This was his gratitude ! 

* Wait, wait,' said Cecil rapidly, laying his hand on her 
shoulder, as she flung herself away. *My dear child, do 
not think me ungrateful. I know well enough I should be 
a dead man myself had it not been for your gallant assistance. 
Believe me, I thank you from my heart.' 

' But you think me " unsexed " all the same ! I see, beati, 
lion ! ' 

The word had rankled in her ; she could launch it now with 
telling reprisal. 

He smiled ; but he saw that this phrase, which she had 
overheard, had not alone incensed, but had wounded 
her. 

* Well, a little, perhaps,' he said gently. ' How should 
it be otherwise ? And, for that matter, I have seen many a 
great lady look on and laugh her soft, cruel laughter, while 
the pheasants were falling by hundreds, or the stags being 
torn by the hounds. They called it " sport," but there wag 
not much difference — in the mercy of it, at least — from your 
war. And they had not a tithe of your courage.' 

The answer failed to conciliate her ; there was an accent of 
compassion in it that ill suited her pride, and a lack of admi- 
ration that was not less new and unwelcome. 

' It was well for you that I ivas unsexed enough to be 
able to send an ounce of lead into a drunkard ! ' she pursued 
with immeasurable disdain. ' If I had been like that dainty 
aristocrat down there — pardieu I it had been worse for you. 
I should have screamed, and fainted, and left you to be killed, 
while I made a tableau. Oh-he, that is to be " feminine," is it 
not?' 

* Where did you see that lady ? ' he asked in some surprise. 
' Oh ! I was there ! ' answered Cigarette, with a toss of 

her head southward to where the villa lay. ' I went to se© 
how you would keep your promise.' 

* Well, you saw I kept it.' 



314 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

She gave her little teeth a sharp click like the click of a 
trigger. 

* Yes. And I would have forgiven you if you had broken it.' 

* Would you ? I should not have forgiven myself.' 

* Ah ! you are just like Marquise. And you will enel 
like him.' 

* Very probably.' 

She knitted her pretty brows, standing there in his patk 
with the pistols thrust in her sash, and her hands resting 
lightly on lier hips, as a good workman rests after a neatly 
finished job, and her dainty fez set half on one side on hei 
brown tangled curls, while upon them the intense lustre of 
the moonlight streamed, and in the dust, wellnigh at their 
feet, lay the gaunt, white-robed form of the dead Arab, with 
the olive saturnine face turned upward to the stars. 

* Why did you give those chessmen to that silver pheasant ? ' 
ihe asked him abruptly. 

* Silver pheasant ? ' 

* Yes. See how she sweeps — sweeps — sweeps so languid, 
BO brilliant, so useless — bah I Why did you give them ? ' 

* She admired them. It was not much to give.' 

' Diantre ! You \rould not have given them to a daughter 
of the people.' 

* Why not ? ' 

' Why not ? Oh-h^ ! Because her hands would be hard, 
and brown, and coarse, not fit for those ivory puppets ; but 
Miladi's are white like the ivory, and cannot soil it. She 
will handle them so gracefully, for five minutes ; and then 
buy a new toy, and let her lap-dog break yours ! ' 

' Like enough.' He said it with his habitual gentle 
temper, but there was a shadow of pain in the words. The 
chessmen had become in some sort like living things to hira, 
through long association ; he had parted from them not with- 
out regret, though for the moment courtesy and generosity of 
instinct had overcome it ; and he knew that it was but too 
true how in all likelihood these trifles of his art, that had 
brought him many a solace and been his companion through 
many a lonely hour, would be forgotten by the morrow, where 
he had bestowed them, and at best put aside in a cabinet to 
lie unnoticed among bronzeb of porcelain, or be set on some 
boudoir-table to be idled with in the mimic warfsj'e that 
would serve to cover some listless flirtation. 



CIGARETTE EN CONDOTTIERA 315 

Cigarette, quick to sting, but as quick to repent using her 
sting, saw the regret in him ; with the rapid, uncalculating 
liberaUty of an utterly unselfish and intensely impulsive 
nature, she hastened to make amends by saying what was 
like gall on her tongue in the utterance : 

* Tiens I ' she said quickly. ' Perhaps she will value them 
more than that. I know nothing of the aristocrats — not I ! 
When you were gone, she championed you against the Black 
Hawk, She told him that if you had not been a gentleman 
before you came into the ranks, she had never seen one. Ma 
caniche I she spoke well, if you had but heard her.' 

'She did !\ 

She saw his glance brighten as it turned on her in a 
surprised gratification. 

* Well ! What is there so wonderful ? ' 

Cigarette asked it with a certain petulance and doggedness, 
taking a namesake out of her breast-pocket, biting its end off, 
and striking a fusee. A word from this aristocrat was more 
welcome to him than a bullet that had saved his life ! 

Her generosity had gone very far, and, like most generosity, 
got nothing for its pains. 

He was silent a few moments, tracing lines in the dust with 
the point of his scabbard. Cigarette, with the cigar in her 
mouth, stamped her foot impatiently. 

* Corporal Victor ; are you going to dream there all night ? 
What is to be done with this dog of an Arbico ? ' 

She was angered by him ; she was in the mood to make 
herself seem all the rougher, fiercer, naughtier, and more 
callous. She had shot the man — pouf I what of that ? She 
had shot men before, as all Africa knew. She would defend 
a half-fledged bird, a terrified sheep, a worn-out old cur ; but 
a man ! Men were the normal and natural food for pistols 
and rifles, she considered. A state of society in which fire« 
arms had been unknown was a thing Cigarette had never 
heard of, and in which she would have contumeliously dis- 
believed if she had been told of it. 

Cecil looked up from his musing ; he thought what a pity 
it was this pretty, graceful French kitten was such a blood- 
thirsty young panther at heart. 

* I scarcely know what to do,' he answered her doubtfully. 
' Put him across my saddle, poor wretch, I suppose ; the fray 
must be reported.* 



3i6 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

' Leave that to me,* said Cigarette decidedly, and with a 
certain haughty patronage. * I shot him — I will see the 
thing gets told right. It might be awkward for you ; they 
are growing so squeamish about the Roumis killing the natives. 
Draw him to one side there, and leave him. The crows will 
finish his affair.' 

The coolness with which this handsome child disposed 
of the fate of what, a moment or two before, had been 
a sentient, breathing, vigorous frame, sent a chill through 
her hearer, though he had been seasoned by a decade of 
slaughter. 

* No,' he said briefly. * Suspicion might fall on some 
innocent passer-by. Besides — he shall have decent burial.' 

' Burial for an Arbi — faugh ! ' cried Cigarette in derision. 
• Parbleu, M. Bel-^-faire-peur, I have seen hundreds of our 
best lascara lie rotting on the plains with the birds' beaks at 
their eyes and the jackals' fangs in their flesh. What was 
good enough for them is surely good enough for him. You 
are an eccentric fellow — you * 

He laughed a little. 

' Time was when I should have begged you not to call me 
any such ** bad form I " Eccentric ! I am not genius enough 
for that.' 

* Eh ? ' She did not understand him. * Well, you want 
that carrion poked into the earth, instead of lying atop of it. 
I don't see much difference myself. I would like to be in 
the sun as long as I could, I think, dead or alive. Ah ! how 
odd it is to think one will be dead some day — never wake for 
the r6veill6 — never hear the cannon or the caissons roll by — 
never stir when the trumpets sound the charge, but He there 
dead — dead — dead — while the squadrons thunder above one's 
grave 1 Droll, eh ? ' 

A momentary pathos softened her voice (which could melt 
and change into a wonderful music), where she stood in the 
glistening moonlight. That the time would ever come when 
her glad laughter would be hushed, when her young heart 
would beat no more, when the bright, abundant, passionate 
blood would bound no longer through her veins, when all the 
vivncious, vivid, sensuous charms of living would be ended 
for her for ever, was a thing that she could no better bring 
home to her than a bird that sings in the light of the sun 
could be made to know that the time would come when its 



CIGARETTE EN CONDOTTIERA 317 

little melodious throat would be frozen in death, and give 
Bong never more. 

The tone touched him — made him think less and less of her 
as a daredevil boy. as a reckless child-soldier, and more of 
her as what she was, than he had done before ; he touched 
her ahnost caressingly. 

' Pauvre enfant I I hope that day will be very distant 
from you. And yet — how bravely you risked death for me 
just now 1 ' 

Cigarette, though accustomed to the lawless loves of the 
camp, flushed ever so slightly at the mere caress of his hand. 

* Chut I I risked nothing ! ' she said rapidly. * As for 
death — when it comes, it comes. Every soldier carries it in 
his wallet, and it may jump out on him any minute. I would 
rather die young than grow old. Pardi ! age is nothing else 
but death that is conscious* 

' Where do you get your wisdom, Uttle one ? * 

* Wisdom ? Bah ! Living is learning. Some people go 
through life with their eyes shut, and then grumble there is 
nothing to see in it 1 Well — you want that Arbi buried ? 
What a fancy I Look you, then ; stay by him, since you are 
30 fond of him, and I will go and send some men to you with 
a stretcher to carry him down to the town. As for reporting, 
leave that to me ; I shall tell them I left you on guard. That 
will square things if you are late at the barrack.' 

' But that will give you so much trouble. Cigarette.* 

* Trouble ? Morbleu ! Do you think I am Hke that silver 
pheasant yonder ? Lend me your horse, and I shall be in the 
town in ten minutes I ' 

She vaulted, as she spoke, into the saddle ; he laid his hand 
on the bridle, and stopped her. 

* Wait I I have not thanked you half enough, my brave 
little champion. How am I to show you my gratitude ? ' 

For a moment the bright, brown, changeful face, that could 
look so fiercely scornful, so sunnily radiant, so tempestuously 
passionate, and so tenderly childlike, in almost the same 
moment, grew warm as the warm suns that had given their fire 
to her veins ; she glanced at him almost slyly, while the 
moonhght slept lustrously in the dark softness of her eyes ; 
there was au intense allurement in her in that moment — the 
allurement of a woman's loveliness, bitterly as she disdained 
ft woman's charms. It might have told him, more plainly 



3i8 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

than words, how best he could reward her for the shot that 
had saved him ; yet, though a man on whom such beguile- 
ment usually worked only too easily and too often, it did not 
now touch him. He was grateful to her, but, despite himself, 
he was cold to her ; despite himself, the life which that little 
hand that he held had taken so lightly made it the hand of a 
comrade to be grasped in alliance, but never the hand of a 
mistress to steal to his lips and to lie in his breast. 

Her rapid and unerring instinct made her feel that keenly 
and instantly ; she had seen too much passion not to know 
when it was absent. The warmth passed off her face, her 
teeth clinched, she shook the bridle out. of his hold. 

• Take gratitude to Miladi there ! She will value fin© 
words ; I set no count on them. I did no more for you than 
I have done scores of times for my Spahis. Ask them how 
many I have shot with my own hand ! ' 

In another instant she was away like a sirocco, a whirlwind 
of dust that rose in the moonlight marking her flight as she 
rode full gallop down to Algiers. 

* A kitten with the tigress in her,* thought Cecil as he 
seated himself on a broken pile of stone to keep his vigil over 
the dead Arab. It was not that he was callous to the gene- 
rous nature of the little Friend of the Flag, or that he was 
insensible either of the courage that beat so dauntlessly in her 
pulses, or of the piquant, picturesque grace that accompanied 
even her wildest actions ; but she had nothing of her sex's 
charm for him. He thought of her rather as a young soldier 
than as a young girl. She amused him as a wayward, bright, 
mischievous, audacious boy might have done ; but she had no 
other interest for him. He had given her little attention ; a 
waltz, a cigar, a passing jest, were all he had bestowed on 
the little lionne of the Spahis corps ; and the deepest senti- 
ment she had ever awakened in him was an involuntary pity — 
pity for this flower which blossomed on the polluted field of 
war, and under the poison-dropping branches of lawless crime. 
A flower bright-hued, sun-fed, glancing with the dews of youth 
now, when it had just unclosed, in all its earliest beauty, but 
already soiled and tainted by the bed from which it sprang, 
and doomed to be swept away with time, scentless and love- 
less, down the rapid, noxious current of that broad, black 
stream of vice on which it now floated so heedlessly. 

Even now his thoughts drifted from her almost before the 



CIGARETTE EN CONDOTTIERA 319 

sound of the horse's hoofs had died where he sat on a loose 
pile of stones, with the lifeless limbs of the Arab at his feet. 

* Who was it in my old life that she is like ? ' he was 
musing. It was the deep-blue, dreaming, haughty eyes of 
' Miladi ' that he was bringing back to memory, not th« 
brown mignon face that had been so late close to his in th« 
light of the moon. 

Meanwhile, on his good grey, Cigarette rode like a trua 
Chasseur, herself. She was used to the saddle, and would 
ride a wild desert colt without stirrup or bridle, balancing her 
supple form, now on one foot, now on the other, on the ani- 
mal's naked back, while they flew at full speed, with a skill 
and address that would have distanced the best heroines of 
manege and hippodrome. Not so fantastically, but full as 
speedily, she dashed down into the city, scattermg all she met 
with right and left, till she rode straight up to the barracks 
of the Chasseurs d'Afrique. At the entrance, as she reined 
up, she saw the very person she wanted, and signed him to 
her as carelessly as if he were a conscript instead of that 
powerful officer, FranQois Vireflau, captain and adjutant. 

' Hola ! ' she cried, as she signalled him ; Cigarette was 
privileged all through the army, and would have given the 
langue verte to the Emperor himself, had she met him. 
' Adjutant Vireflau, I come to tell you a good story for your 
folios matricules. There is your Corporal there — le beau 
Victor — has been attacked by four drunken dogs of ArbicoSj 
iead drunk, and four against one. He fought them superbly, 
but he would only parry, not thrust, because he knows how 
strict the rules are about dealing with the scoundrels — even 
when they are murdering you, parbleu ! He has behaved 
splendidly. I tell you so. And he was so patient with these 
dogs that he would not have killed one of them. But I did ; 
shot one straight through the brain — a beautiful thing — and 
he lies on the Oran road now. Victor would not leave him, 
for fear some passer-by should be thought guilty of a murder ; 
so I came on to tell you, and ask you to send some men up for 
the jackal's body. Ah ! he is a fine soldier, that Bel-a-faire- 
peur of yours. Why don't you give him a step — two steps — 
three steps *? Diantre ! It is not hke France to leave him a 
Corporal I ' 

Vireflau listened attentively — a short, lean, black-visaged 
campaigner, who yet relaxed into a grim half-smile as the 



320 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

vivandi^re addressed him with that air as of a generalissimo 
addressing a subordinate, which always characterised Cigarette 
the more strongly the higher the grade of her companion or 
opponent. 

' Always eloquent, pretty one I * he growled. * Are you 
sure he did not begin the fray ? ' 

* Ma cantche I Don't I tell you the four Arabs were Like 
four devils ! They knocked down an old colon, and Bel-^- 
faire-peur tried to prevent their doing more mischief, and they 
set on him like so many wild cats. He kept his temper won- 
derfully ; he always tries to preserve order ; you can't say so 
much of your riffraff, Captain Vireflau, commonly I Here ! 
this is his horse. Send some men to him ; and mind the 
thing is reported fairly, and to his credit, to-morrow.' 

With which command, given as with the air of a commander- 
in-chief, in its hauteur and its nonchalance, Cigarette vaulted 
off' the charger, flung the bridle to a soldier, and was away 
and out of sight before Fran9ois Vireflau had time to consider 
whether he should laugh at her caprices, as all the army did, 
or resent her insolence to his dignity. But he was a good- 
natured man, and, what was better, a just one ; and Cigarette 
had judged rightly that the tale she had told would weigh 
well with him to the credit side of his Corporal, and would 
not reach his Colonel in any warped version that could give 
pretext for any fresh exercise of tyranny over * Bel-^-faire- 
peur ' under the title of ' discipline.' 

* Dieu de Dieu ! ' thought his champion as she made her 
way through the gay-lit streets. 'I swore to have my 
vengeance on him. It is a droll vengeance, to save his life, 
and plead his cause with Vireflau ! No matter ! one could 
not look on and let a set of Arbicos kill a good lascar of 
France, and the thing that is just must be said, let it go as 
it will against one's grain. Public Welfare before Private 
Pique! ' 

A grand and misty generality which consoled Cigarette for 
an abandonment of her sworn revenge which she felt was a 
weakness utterly unworthy of her, and too much like that 
inconsequent weathercock, that useless, insignificant part of 
creation, those objects of her supreme derision and contempt, 
those frivolous trifles which she wondered the good God had 
ever troubled himself to make — namely, ' Les Femmes.' 

' Hoi A, Cigarette ! * cried the Zouave Tata, leaning out of 



CIGARETTE EN CONDOTTIERA 321 

a little casement of the As de Pique as she passed it. ' A la 
honne heure, ma belle I Come in ; we have the devil's own tun 
here ' 

* No doubt ! ' retorted the Friend of the Flag. *It would 
be odd if the master-fiddler would not fiddle for his 
own! ' 

Through the window, and over the sturdy shoulders in their 
canvas shirt of the hero Tata, the room was visible, full of 
smoke, through which the hght glimmered like the sun in a 
fog, reeking with bad wines, crowded with laughing bearded 
faces, and the battered beauty of women revellers, while on 
the table, singing with a voice Mario himself could not have 
rivalled for exquisite sweetness, was a slender Zouave gesticu- 
lating with the most marvellous pantomime, while his melo- 
dious tones rolled out the obscenest and wittiest ballad that 
ever was carolled in a guinguette. 

' Come in, my pretty one ! ' entreated Tata, stretching out 
his brawny arms. ' You will die of laughing if you hear 
Gris-Gris to-night — such a song I ' 

* A pretty song, yes, for a pig- sty 1 ' said Cigarette, with 
a glance into the chamber, and she shook his hand off her, and 
went on down the street. A night or two before a new song 
from Gris-Gris, the best tenor in the whole army, would have 
been paradise to her, as she would have vaulted through the 
window at a single bound into the pandemonium. Now, she 
did not know why, she found no charm in it. 

And she went quietly home to her little straw-bed in her 
garret, and curled herself up like a kitten to sleep ; but for 
the first time in her young life sleep did not come readily to 
her, and when it did come for the first time found a restless 
sigh upon her laughing mouth, as she murmured, dreaming : 
'Comriie elle est belU I Conmie elle est belle /' 



322 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

CHAPTER XXII 

THE MISTRESS OP THE WHITE KINO 

* Fighting in the Kabaila, life was well enough ; but here t ' 
thought Cecil, as, earher awake than those of his Chambr^e, 
he stood looking down the lengthy narrow room where the 
men lay asleep along the bare floor. 

Tired as overworked cattle, and crouched or stretched like 
worn-out homeless dogs, they had never wakened as he had 
noiselessly harnessed himself, and he looked at them with 
that interest in other lives that had come to him through 
adversity ; for if misfortune had given him strength, it had 
also given him sympathy. 

They were of marvellously various types — those sleepers 
brought under one roof by fates the most diverse. Close 
beside a huge and sinewy brute of an Auvergnat, whose coarse 
bestial features and massive bull's head were fitter for ft 
galley-slave than a soldier, were the Uthe exquisite limbs and 
the oval delicate face of a man from the Valley of the Rhone. 
Beneath a canopy of flapping tawny wild-beast skins, the 
spoils of his own hands, was flung the naked torso of one of 
the splendid peasants of the Sables d'Olonue ; one steeped so 
long in blood and wine and alcohol, that he had forgotten the 
blue bright waves that broke on the western shores of his 
boyhood's home, save when he muttered thirstily in his dreams 
of the cool sea, as he was muttering now. Next him, curled, 
doglike, with its round black head meeting its feet, was % 
wiry frame, on which every muscle was traced Uke network, 
and the skin burnt black as jet under twenty years of African 
sun. The midnight streets of Paris had seen its birth, the 
thieves' quarter had been its nest ; it had no history, it had 
almost no humanity ; it was a perfect machine for slaughter, 
no more — who had ever tried to make it more ? 

Further on lay, sleeping fitfully, a boy of scarcely more 
than seventeen, with rounded cheeks and fair white brow 
like a child's, whose uncovered chest was delicate as a girl's, 
and through whose long brown lashes tears in his slumber 
were stealing as his rosy mouth murmured, * Mdre ! mdre I 



THE MISTRESS OF THE WHITE KING 323 

Pauvre vi^'e I ' He was a young conscript taken from the 
glad vine- country of the Loire, and from the little dwelling up 
in the rock beside the sunny brimming river, and half- buried 
imder its gi'ape-leaves and coils, that was dearer to him than 
is the palace to its heir. There were many others beside 
these ; and Cecil looked at them with those weary speculative 
meditative fancies which, very alien to his temperament, stole 
on him occasionally in the privations and loneliness of his 
existence here — loneliness in the midst of numbers, the most 
painful of all soKtude. 

Life was bearable enough to him in the activity of cam- 
paigning, in the excitement of warfare ; there were times 
even when it yielded him absolute enjoyment, and brought 
him interests more genuine and vivid than any he had known 
in his former world. But, in the monotony and the confine- 
ment of the barrack routine, his days were often intolerable 
to him. Morning after morning he rose to the same weary 
round of duty, the same series of petty irritations, of physical 
privations, of irksome repetitions, to take a toss of black rough 
coffee, and begin the day knowing it would bring with it 
endless annoyances without one gleam of hope. Rose to spend 
hours on the exercise-ground in the glare of a burning sun, 
railed at if a trooper's accoutrements were awry, or an insub- 
cfrdinate scoundrel had pawned his regulation shirt; to be 
incessantly witness of tyrannies and cruelties he was power- 
less to prevent, and which he continually saw undo all he 
had done, and render men desperate whom he had spent 
months in endeavouring to make contented ; to have as the 
only diversions for his few instants of leisure loathsome plea- 
sures that disgusted the senses they were meant to indulge, 
and that brought him to scenes of low debauchery from which 
all the old fastidious instincts of his delicate luxurious taste 
recoiled. With such a life as this, he often wondered regret- 
fully why, out of the many Arab swords that had crossed his 
own, none had gone straight to his heart ; why, out of the 
many wounds that had kept him hovering on the confines- 
of the grave, none had ever brought him the end and th&. 
oblivion of death. 

Had he been subject to all the miseries and personal hard- 
ships of his present career, but had only owned the power to 
command, to pardon, to lead, and to direct as Alan Bertie 
before him had done with his Irregular Cavalry iu the Indian 



334 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

plains, such a thought would never have crossed him ; ha 
was far too thorough a soldier not the7i to have been not only 
satisfied, but happy. What made his hfe in the barracks of 
Algiers so bitter were the impotency, the subjection, the com- 
pelled obedience to a bidding that he knew often capricious 
and unjust as it was cruel, which were so unendurable to his 
natural pride, yet to which he had hitherto rendered unde- 
viating adhesion and submission, less for his own sake than 
for that of the men around him, who, he knew, would back 
him in revolt to the death, and be dealt with, for such loyalty 
to him, in the fashion that the vivandiere's words had pic- 
tured with such teiiible force and truth. 

'Is it worth while to go on with it? Would it not be 
the wiser way to draw my own sabre across my throat ? ' he 
thought, as the brutalised companionship in which his life 
was spent struck on him all the more darkly because, the 
night before, a woman's voice and a woman's face had recalled 
memories buried for twelve long years. 

But, after so long a stand-up fight with fate, so long a 
victory over the temptation to let himself drift out in an 
opium-sleep from the world that had grown so dark to him, 
it was not in him to give under now. In his own way he 
had found a duty to do here, though he would have laughed 
at any one who should have used the word ' duty ' in con- 
nection with him. In his own way, amid these wild spirits, 
who would have been blown from the guns' mouths to serve 
him, he had made good the * Coeur vaillant se fait Eoyaume ' 
of his House. And he was, moreover, by this time, a French 
soldier at heart and in habit, in almost all things, though the 
English gentleman was not dead in him under the harness of 
a Chasseur d'Afrique. 
' This morning he roused the men of his Chambr^e with that 
xindly gentleness which had gone so far in its novelty to attach 
their liking ; went through the customary routine of his post 
with that exactitude and punctuality of which he was always 
careful to set the example ; made his breakfast off some 
wretched onion-soup and a roll of black bread ; rode fifty 
miles in the blazing heat of the African day at the head of a 
score of his chases-marais on convoy duty, bringing in escort 
a long string of maize-wagons from the region of the Kabaila, 
which, without such guard, might have been swooped down 
on and borne off by some predatory tribe ; and returned, jaded, 



h 



THE MISTRESS OF THE WHITE KING 325 

weery, parched with thirst, scorched through with heat, and 
covered with white dust, fco be kept waiting in his saddle, by 
his Colonel's orders, outside the barrack for three-quarters of 
an hour, whether to receive a command or a censure he was 
left in ignorance. 

When the three-quarters had passed, he was told M. le 
Commandant had gone long ago, and did not require him I 

Cecil said nothing. 

Yet he reeled slightly as he threw himself out of the saddle ; 
a nausea and a giddiness had come on him. To have passed 
nigh an hour motionless in his stirrups, with the skies like 
brass above him, while he was already worn with riding from 
sunrise wellnigh to sunset, with little to appease hunger and 
less to slake thirst, made him, despite himself, stagger dizzily 
under a certain sense of blindness and exhaustion as he dis- 
mounted. 

The Chasseur who had brought him the message caught his 
arm eagerly. 

' Are you hurt, mon Gaporal ? ' 

Cecil shook his head. The speaker was one known in the 
regiment as Petit Picpon, who had begun life as a gamm of 
Paris, and now bade fair to make one of the most brilliant of 
the soldiers of Africa. Petit Picpon had but one drawback to 
his military career — he was always in insubordination ; the 
old gamin dare-devilry was not dead in him, and never would 
die ; and Petit Picpon accordingly was perpetually a hero in 
the field and a ragamuffin in the times of peace. Of course 
he was always arrayed against authority, and now, being fond 
of his galowi6 with that curious doglike deathless attachment 
that these natures, all reckless, wanton, destructive, and mis- 
chievous though they be, so commonly bestow, he muttered a 
terrible curse under his fiercely-curled moustaches. 

'If the Black Hawk were nailed up in the sun like a 
kite on a barn-door, I would drive twenty nails through his 
throat ! ' 

Cecil turned rapidly on him. 

' Silence, sir ! or I must report you. Another speech like 
that, and you shall have a turn at Beylick.' 

It went to his heart to rebuke the poor fellow for an out- 
burst of indignation which had its root in regard for himself^ 
but he knew that to encourage it by so much even as by an 
expression of gratitude for the affection borne him, would be 



326 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

to sovT further and deeper the poison-seeds of that inclination 
to mutiny and that rebellious hatred against their chief already 
only planted too strongly in the squadrons under Chateauroy's 
command. 

Petit Picpon looked as crestfallen as one of his fraternity 
could ; he knew well enough that what he had said could get 
him twenty blows of the tnatraque, if his corporal chose to 
give him up to judgment ; but he had too much of the Parisian 
in him still not to have his say, though he should be shot 
for it. 

* Send me to Beylick if you like, Corporal,' he said, sturdily ; 
• I was in wrath for you — not for myself. Diantre ! ' 

Cecil was infinitely more touched than he dared, for sake of 
discipline, for sake of the speaker himself, to show ; but his 
glance dwelt on Petit Picpon with a look that the quick, black, 
monkey-like eyes of the rebel were swift to read. 

' I know,' he said, gravely. * I do not misjudge you ; 
but at the- same time, my name must never serve as a pretext 
for insubordination. Such men as care to pleasure me will 
best do so in making my duty light by their own self-control 
and obedience to the rules of their service.' 

He led his horse away, and Petit Picpon went on an errand 
he had been sent to do in the streets for one of the officers. 
Picpon was unusually thoughtful and sober in deportment for 
him, since he was usually given to making his progress along 
a road, taken unobserved by those in command over him, 
*faisant roue,' with hands and heels in the dexterous somer- 
saults of his early days. 

Now he went along without any unprofessional antics, biting 
the tip of a smoked-out cigar, which he had picked up off the 
pavement in sheer instinct, retained from the old times when 
he had used to rush, the foremost of la queue, into the for- 
saken theatres of Bouffes or of Vari6t^s in search for those 
odds and ends which the departed audience might have left 
behind them — one of the favourite modes of seeking a liveli- 
hood with the Parisian night-birds. 

* Dame ! I will give it up then,* resolved Picpon, half 
aloud, valorously. 

Now Picpon had come forth on evil thoughts intent. 

His officer — a careless and extravagant man, the richest 
man in the regiment — had given him a rather small velvet 
bag, sealed, with directions to take it to a certain notorious 



THE MISTRESS OF THE WHITE KING 327 

beauty of Algiers, whose handsome Moresco eyes smiled — or 
at least he believed so — exclusively for the time on the sender. 
Picpon was very quick, intelligent, and much liked by his 
superiors, so that he was often employed on errands ; and the 
tricks he played in the execution thereof were so adroitly done 
that they were never detected. Picpon had chuckled to him- 
self over this mission. It was but the work of an instant for 
the lithe nimble fingers of the ex-gamin to undo the bag 
without touching the seal, to see that it contained a hundred 
napoleons with a note, to slip the gold into the folds of his 
ceinturofi, to fill up the sack with date-stones, to make it 
assume its original form so that none could have imagined it 
had been ton shed, and to proceed with it thus to the Moorish 
lionne'a dwelling. The negro who always opened her door 
would take it in ; Picpon would hint to him to be careful, aa 
it contained some rare and rich sweetmeats ; negro nature, he 
well knew, would impel him to search for the bonbons ; and 
the bag, under his clumsy treatment, would bear plain marks 
of having been tampered with, and, as the African had a most 
thievish reputation, he would never be believed if he swore 
himself guiltless. Voild ! here was a neat trick ! If it had 
8 drawback, it was that it was too simple, too little risque, 
A child might do it. 

Still — a hundred naps ! What fat geese, what flagons of 
brandy, what dozens of wine, what rich soups, what hand- 
Bom.e moukieras, what tavern banquets they would bring I 
Picpon had chuckled again as he arranged the little bag so 
carefully with its date-stones, and pictured the rage of the 
beautiful Moor when she should discover the contents, and 
order the stick to her negro. Ah ! that was what Picpon 
called fun ! 

To appreciate the full force of such fun, it is necessary to 
have also appreciated the gamin. To understand the legiti- 
mate aspect such a theft bore, it is necessary to have also 
understood the unrecordable codes that govern the genua 
pratique, into which the genus gamin, when at maturity, 
develops. 

Picpon was quite in love with his joke ; it was only a good 
joke in his sight ; and, indeed, men need to live as hardly aa 
an African soldier lives, to estimate the full temptation that 
gold can have when you have come to look on a cat as very 
good eating, and to have nothing to gnaw but a bit of old 



328 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

shoe-leather through the whole of the long hours of a burning 
day of fatigue duty ; and to estimate, as well, the full width 
and depth of the renunciation that made him mutter now so 
valorously, * Dame ! I will give it up, then ! ' 

Picpon did not know himself as he said it. Yet he turned 
down into a lonely narrow lane, under marble walls over- 
topped with fig and palm from, some fine gardens, undid the 
bag for the second time, whisked out the date-stones and 
threw them over the wall, so that they should be out of his 
reach if he repented, put back the napoleons, closed the little 
sack, ran as hard as he could scamper to his destination, deU- 
vered his charge into the fair lady's own hands, and relieved 
his feelings by a score of somersaults along the pavement as 
fast as ever he could go. 

* Ma cantche I ' he thought, as he stood on his head, with 
his legs at an acute angle in the air, a position very favoured 
by him for moments of reflection — he said his brain worked 
better upside down. ' Ma cantche ! what a weakness, what a 
weakness 1 What remorse to have yielded to it ! Beneath 
yoUj Picpon — utterly beneath you. Just because that ci-devant 
says such follies please him in us ! ' 

Picpon (then in his gamin stage) had been enrolled in lae 
Chasseurs at the same time with the ' ci-devant,' as they 
called Bertie, and following his gamin nature, had exhausted 
all his resources of impudence, mahciousness, and power of 
tormenting, on the ' aristocrat ; ' somewhat disappointed, 
however, that the utmost ingenuities of his insolence and 
even his malignity never succeeded in breaking the ' aristo- 
crat's ' silence and contemptuous forbearance from all reprisal. 
For the first two years the hell-on- earth, which life with a 
Franco-Arab regiment seemed to Cecil, was a hundredfold 
embittered by the brutalised jests and mosquito-like torments 
of this little odious chimpanzee of Paris. 

One day, however, it chanced that a detachment of Chas- 
seurs, of which Cecil was one, was cut to pieces by such an 
overwhelming mass of Arabs, that scarce a dozen of them 
could force their way through the Bedouins with life ; he 
was among those few, and a flight at full speed was the 
sole chance of regaining their encampment. Just as he 
had shaken his bridle free of the Arab's clutch, and had 
mowed liimself a clear path through their ranks, ho caught 
Bight of his young enemy, Picpon, on the ground, with a 



THE MISTRESS OF THE WHITE KING 32^ 

lance broken off in his ribs, guarding his head, with bleeding 
hands, as the horses trampled over him. To make a dash at 
the boy, though to linger a moment was to risk certain death, 
to send his steel through an Arab who came in his way, to 
lean down and catch hold of the lad's sash, to swing him up 
into his saddle and throw him across it in front of him, and 
to charge afresh through the storm of musket-balls, and ride 
on thus burdened, was the work of ten seconds with ' Bel-a- 
faire-peur.' And he brought the boy safe over a stretch of 
six leagues in a flight for life, though the imp no more 
deserved the compassion than a scorpion that has spent all its 
noxious day stinging at every point of uncovered flesh would 
merit tenderness from the hand it had poisoned. 

When he was swung down from the saddle and laid in 
front of a vidette fire, sheltered from the bitter north wind 
that was then blowing cruelly, the bright, black, ape-like 
eyes of the Parisian diablotin opened with a strange gleam in 
them. 

' Picpon s^en souvie?idra,' he murmured. 

And Picpon had kept his word ; he had remembered often, 
he remembered now, standing on his head and thinking of his 
hundred. napoleons sun-endered because thieving and lying in 
the regiment gave pain to that oddly predjudiced * ci-devant.' 
This was the sort of loyalty that the Franco- Arabs rendered ; 
this was the sort of influence that the English Guardsman 
exercised among his Roumis. 

Meantime, while Picpon made a human cone of himself, to 
the admiration of the polyglot crowd of the Algerine street, 
Cecil himself, having watered, fed, and littered down his 
tired horse, made his way to a little cafe he commonly fre- 
quented, and spent the few sous he could afford on an iced 
draught of lemcn-flavoured drink. Eat he could not ; over- 
fatigue had given him a nausea for food, and the last hour, 
motionless in the intense glow of the afternoon sun, had 
brought that racking pain through his temples which assailed 
him rarely now, but which in his first years in Africa had 
given him many hours of agony. He could not stay in the 
cafe ; it was the hour of dinner for many, and the odours 
joined with the noise were insupportable to him. 

A few doors farther in the street, which was chiefly of 
Jewish and Moslem shops, there was a quaint place kept by 
&n old Moor, who had some of the rarest and most beautiful 



S30 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

fereasures of Algerian workmanship in his long, dark, silent 
chambers. With this old man Cecil had something of a 
friendship ; he had protected him one day from the mockery 
and outrage of some drunken Indigenes, and the Moor, 
warmly grateful, was ever ready to give him a cup of coHee 
and a hubble-bubble in the stillness of his dwelling. Its 
resort was sometimes welcome to him as the one spot, quiet 
and noiseless, to which he could escape out of the continuoiis 
turmoil of street and of barrack, and he went thither now. 
He found the old man sitting cross-legged behind his counter ; 
a noble-looking, aged Mussulman, with a long beard like 
white silk, with cashmeres and broidered stuffs of peerless 
texture hanging above his head, and all around him things of 
silver, of gold, of ivory, of amber, of feathers, of bronze, of 
emeralds, of ruby, of beryl, whose rich colours glowed through 
the darkness. 

* No coffee, no sherbet, thanks, good father,' said Cecil, 
in answer to the Moor's hospitable entreaties. ' Give me 
only licence to sit in the quiet here. I am very tired.' 

* Sit and be welcome, my son,' said Ben Arsli. * Whora 
should this roof shelter in honour, if not thee ? Musjid shall 
bring thee the supreme solace.' 

The supreme solace was a narghile, and its great bowl of 
rose-water was soon set down by the little Moorish lad at 
Cecil's side. Whether fatigue really weighted his eyes witk 
slumber, or whether the soothing sedative of the pipe had its 
influence, he had not sat long in the perfect stillness of the 
Moor's shop before the narrow view of the street under the 
awning without was lost to him, the lustre and confusion of 
shadowy hues swam awhile before his eyes, the throbbing 
pain in his temples grew duller, and he slept — the heavy, 
dreamless sleep of intense exhaustion. 

Ben Arsli glanced at him, and bade Musjid be very quiet. 
Half an hour or more passed ; none had entered the place. 
The grave old Moslem was half slumbering himself, whea 
there came a delicate odour of perfumed laces, a delicate rustle 
of silk swept the floor ; a lady's voice asked the price of &n 
ostrich-egg, superbly mounted in gold. Ben Arsli opened his 
eyes — the Chasseur slept on ; the new-comer was one of those 
great ladies who now and then winter in Algeria. 

Her carriage waited without ; she was alone, making pur- 
chase of those innumerable splendid trifles with which Algiers 



THE MISTRESS OF THE WHITE KING 331 

is rife, while she drove through the town in the cooler hour 
before the sun sank into the western sea. 

The Moor rose instantly, with profound salaams, before 
her, and begin to spread before her the richest treasures of 
his stock. Under the plea of the light, he remained near the 
entrance with her : money was dear to him, and must not be 
lost, but he wouid make it if he could without awakening 
the tired soldier. Marvellous caskets of mother-of-pearl ; 
carpets soft as down, and every brilliant hue melting one 
within another ; coffee equipages, of inimitable metal work ; 
silver statuettes, exquisitely chased and wrought ; feather- 
fans, and screens of every beauty of device, were spread 
before her, and many of them were bought by her with that 
wnerring grace of taste and lavishness of expenditure which 
were her characteristics, but which are far from always found 
m unison ; and throughout her survey Ben Arsli had kept her 
near the entrance, and Cecil had slept on unaroused by the 
low tones of their voices. 

A roll of notes had passot' from her hand to the Moslem's, 
smd she was about to glide out to her carriage, when a lamp 
which hung at the farther end caught her fancy. It was 
very singular, a mingling of coloured glass, silver, gold and 
ivory being wrought in with much beauty in its formation. 

* Is that for sale ? ' she inquired. 

As he answered in the affirmative, she moved up the shop, 
and, her eyes being lifted to the lamp, had drawn close to 
Cecil before she saw him. When she did so, she paused near 
in astonishment. 

* Is that soldier asleep ? ' 

* He is, madame,' sof% answered the old man in his slow, 
studied French. ' He comes here to rest sometimes out of 
the noise ; he was very tired to-day, and I think ill, would 
he have confessed it.' 

' Indeed 1 ' Her eyes feU on him with compassion ; he 
had fallen into an attitude of much grace, and of utter 
exhaustion ; his head was uncovered and rested on one arm, 
BO that the face was turned upward. With a woman's rapid, 
comprehensive glance, she saw the dark shadow, like a bruise 
under his closed, aching eyes, she saw the weary pain upon his 
forehead, she saw the whiteness of his hands, the slenderness 
of hijs wrists, the softness of his hair ; she saw, as she had 
Been before, that whatever he might be now, in some past 



332 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

time he had been a man of gentle blood, of courtly 
bearing. 

' He is a Chasseur d'Afrique ? * she asked the Moslem. 

'Yes, madame. I think he must have been some- 
thing very different some day.' 

She did not answer ; she stood with her thoughtful eyes 
gazing on the worn-out soldier. 

* He saved me once, madame, at much risk to himself, from 
the savagery of some Turcos,' the old man went on. 'Of 
course he is always welcome under my roof. The companion- 
ship he has must be bitter to him, I fancy ; they do say he 
would have had his officer's grade, and the cross, too, long 
before now, if it were not for his Colonel's hatred.' 

' Ah ! I have seen him before now ; he carves in ivory. I 
suppose he has a good sale for those things with you ? ' 
The Moor looked up in amazement. 

* In ivory, madame ? — he ? Allah-il- Allah ! I never 
heard of it. It is strange * 

* Very strange. Doubtless you would have given him a 
good price for them ? ' 

* Surely I would ; any price he should have wished. Do I 
not owe him my life ? ' 

At that moment little Musjid let fall a valuable coffee- 
tray, inlaid with amber ; his master with muttered apology 
hastened to the scene of accident ; the noise startled Cecil, 
and his eyes unclosed to all the dreamy fantastic colours of the 
place, and met those bent on him in musing pity — saw that 
lustrous, haughty, delicate head bending slightly down through 
the many coloured shadows. 

He thought he was dreaming, yet on instinct he rose, 
staggering slightly, for sharp pain was still darting through 
his head and temples. 

* Madame 1 pardon me ! Was I sleeping ? ' 

* You were, and rest again. You look ill 1 * she said, 
gently, and there was, for a moment, less of that accent in 
her voice which the night before had marked so distinctly, 
so pointedly, the Une of demarcation between a Princess of 
Spain and a soldier of Africa, 

* I thank you, I ail nothing.' 

He had no sense that he did in the presence of that face 
which had tbe beauty of his old life ; under the charm of that 
voice which had the music of his buried years. 



THE MISTRESS OF THE WHITE KING 333 

* I fear that is scarcely true ? ' she answered him. * You 
look in pain; though as a soldier, perhaps, you will not 
own it ? * 

* A headache from the sun — no more, madame.' 

He was careful not again to forget the social gulf which 
yawned between them. 

* That is quite bad enough 1 Your service must be 
severe ? * 

' In Africa, Miladi, one cannot expect indulgence.* 
' I suppose not. You have served long ? ' 
' Twelve years, madame.' 

* And your name ? ' 

* Louis Victor.' She fancied there was a slight abrupt- 
ness in the reply, as though he were about to add some other 
name, and checked himself. 

She entered it in the little book from which she had taken 
her bank-notes. 

* I may be able to serve you,' she said, as she wrote. * I 
will speak of you to the Marshal ; and when I return to 
Paris, I may have an opportunity to bring your name before 
the Emperor. He is as rapid as his uncle to reward military 
merit ; but he has not his uncle's opportunities for personal 
observation of his soldiers.' 

The colour flushed his forehead. 

'You do me much honour,' he said, rapidly, 'but if you 
would gratify me, madame, do not seek to do anything of the 
kind.' 

' And why ? Do you not even desire the cross ? ^ 

* I desire nothing, except to be forgotten.' 

* You seek what others dread, then ? ' 

*It may be so. At any rate, if you would serve me, 
madame, never say what can bring me into notice.' 

She regarded him with much surprise, with some slight 
sense of annoyance ; she had bent far in tendering her in- 
fluence at the French court to a private soldier, and his re- 
jection of it seemed as ungracious as it was inexplicable. 

At that moment the Moor joined them. 

' Miladi has told me. Monsieur Victor, that you are a first- 
rate carver of ivories. How is it you have never let me 
benefit by your art ? ' 

'My things are not worth a sou,' muttered Cecil hur- 
riedly. 



334 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

'You do them great injustice, and yourself also,' said the 
grande damef more coldly than she had before spoken. ' Your 
carvings are singularly perfect, and should bring you con- 
siderable returns.* 

' Why have you never shown them to me, at least ? * pur- 
sued Ben Arsli — * why not have given me my option ? ' 

The blood flushed Cecil's face again ; he turned to the 
Princess. 

'I withheld them, madame, not because he would have 
underpriced, but overpriced them. He rates a trifling act of 
mine, of long ago, so unduly.' 

She bent her head in silence ; yet a more grateful compre- 
hension of his motive she could not have given than her glance 
alone gave. 

Ben Arsli stroked his great beard ; more moved than his 
Moslem dignity would show. 

* Always so ! ' he muttered, '' always so I My son, in some 
life before this, was not generosity your ruin ? ' 

* Miladi was about to purchase that lamp ? ' asked Cecil, 
avoidmg the question. ' Her Highness will not find any- 
thing like it in all Algiers.' 

The lamp was taken down, and the conversation turned from 
himself. 

' May I bear it to your carriage, madame ? ' he asked, as 
she moved to leave, having made it her own, while her foot- 
man carried out the smaller articles she had brought to the 
equipage. She bowed in silence ; she was very exclusive, 
she was not wholly satisfied with herself for having conversed 
thus with a Chasseur d'Afrique in a Moor's bazaar. Still, 
she vaguely felt pity for this man ; she equally vaguely de- 
sired to serve him. 

* Wait, Monsieur Victor ! ' she said as he closed the door 
of her carriage. * I accepted your chessmen last night, but 
you are very certain that it is impossible I can retain them on 
Buch terms.* 

A shadow darkened his face. 

' Let your dogs break them, then, madame. They shall not 
Dome back to me.' 

* You mistake — I did not mean that I would send them 
back. I simply desire to offer you some equivalent for them. 
There must be something that you wish for ?— something which 
would be acceptable to you in the life you lead ? ' 



THE MISTRESS OF THE WHITE KING 33S 

* I have already named the only thing I desire.* 

He had been solicitous to remember and sustain the enor- 
mous difference in their social degrees ; but at the offer of her 
gifts, of her patronage, of her recompense, the pride of his old 
life rose up to meet her own. 

* To be forgotten ? A sad wish I Nay, surely life in a 
regiment of Africa cannot be so cloudless that it can create in 
you no other ? ' 

* It is not. I have another.' 

* Then tell it to me : it shall be gratified.* 

* It is to enjoy a luxury long ago lost for ever. It is — to 
be allowed to give the slight courtesy of a gentleman without 
being tendered the wage of a servant.' 

She understood him ; she was moved, too, by the inflexion 
©f his voice. She was not so cold, not so negligent, as the 
world called her. 

* I had passed my word to grant it ; I cannot retract,' she 
answered him, after a pause. ' I will press nothing more on 
you. But — as an obhgation to me — can you find no way in 
which a rouleau of gold would benefit your men ? ' 

* No way that I can take it for them. But, if you care 
indeed to do them a charity, a little wine, a Httle fruit, a few 
flowers (for there are those among them who love flowers), 
sent to the hospital, will bring many benedictions on your 
name, madame. They lie in infinite misery there I ' 

* I will remember,' she said simply, while a thoughtful 
Badness passed over her brilliant face. ' Adieu, M. le Caporal ; 
and if you should think better of your choice, and will allow 
your name to be mentioned by me to his Majesty, send me word 
through my people. There is my card.' 

The carriage whirled away down the crooked street ; ho 
stood under the tawny awning of the Moorish house, with the 
thin glazed card in his hand. On it was printed : 

♦ Mme, la Frincesse Corona d'Amagile^ 

Hdtel Corona^ Farii* 

In the comer was written, * Villa Aiaussa, Algiers.' He 
thrust it iii the folds of his sash, and turned within. 
' Do you know her ? ' he asked Ben ArsH. 
The old man shook his head. 

* She is the most beautiful of thy many fair Frankish women. 



336 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

I never saw her till to-day. She seeraed to have an interest in 
thee, my son. But listen here. Touching these ivory toys — 
if thou dost not bring henceforth to me all the work in them 
that thou doest, thou shalt never come here more to meet the 
light of her eyes.' 

Cecil smiled and pressed the Moslem's hand. 

* I kept them away because you would have given me a 
hundred piastres for what had not been worth one. As for her 
eyes, they are stars that shine on another world than an 
African trooper's. So best I * 

Yet they were stars of which he thought more, as he wended 
his way back to the barracks, than of the splendid constella- 
tions of the Algerian evening that shone with all the lustre of 
the day, but with a soft enchanted light which transfigured 
sea, and earth, and sky as never did the day's full glow, as he 
returned to the mechanical duties, to the thankless services, to 
^the distasteful meal, to the riotous mirth, to the coarse com- 
. ^radeship, which seemed to him to-night more bitter than they 
^1^ Clhad ever done since his very identity, his very existence, had 
jbeen killed and buried past recall,' past resurrection, under 
ItJie kejn d' ordoimance of a Chasseur d'Afrique. 

Meantime, the Princesse Corona drove homeward — home- 
ward to where a temporary home had been made by her in 
the most elegant of the many snow-white villas that stud the 
sides of the Sahel and face the bright bow of the sunlit bay ; 
a villa with balconies, and awnings, and ccol silent chambers, 
and rich glowing gardens, and a broad low roof, half hidden 
in bay and orange and myrtle and basilica, and the liquid 
sound of waters bubbling beneath a riotous luxuriance of 
blossom. 

Madame la Princesse passed from her carriage to her own 
morning-room, and sank down on a couch a little listless and 
weary with her search among the treasures of the Algerine 
bazaars. It was purposeless work, after all. Had she not 
bronzes, and porcelains, and bric-a-brac, and ohjets d'art in 
profusion in her Roman villa, her Parisian hotel, her groat 
grim palace in Estremadura. 

' Not one of those things do I want — not one shall 1 look 
at twice. The money would have been better at the soldiers' 
hospital,' she thought, while her eyes dwelt on a chess- table 
near her — a table on which the mimic hosts of Chasseurs and 
Arabs were ranged in opposite squadrons. 



THE MISTRESS OF THE WHITE KING 337 

She took the White King in her hand and gazed at it with 
a certain interest. 

* That man has been noble once,' she thought. ' What a 
fate ! — whiit a cruel iate I ' 

It touched her to great pity; although proud with too in- 
tense a pride, her nature was exceedingly generous, and, when 
once moved, deeply compassionate. The unerring glance of~T 
a woman habituated to the first society of Europe had told bsr 
that the accent, the bearing, the tone, the features of this 
soldier, who only asked of life ' oblivion,' were those of ona 
originally of gentle blood ; and the dignity and patience of big 
acceptajice of the indignities which his present rank entailed 
on him had not escaped her any more than the delicate beauty 
of his face as she had seen it, weary, pale, and shadowed with j 
pain, in the unconscious revelation of sleep. ^-^ 

* How bitter his life must be I ' she mused. * When 
Philip comes, perhaps he will know some way to aid him. 
And yet — who can serve a man who only desire ~ to be for- 
gotten ? ' 

Then, with a certain impatient sense of some absurd dis- 
crepancy, of some unseemly occupation, in her thus dwelling 
on the wishes and the burdens of a sotis-officier of Light 
Cavalry, she laughed a little, and put the White Chief back onca 
more in his place. Yet even as she set the king among his 
mimic forces, the very carvings themselves served to retain 
their artist in her memory. 

There was about them an indescribable elegance, an exceed- 
ing grace and beauty, which spoke of a knowledge of art and of 
refinement of taste far beyond those of a mere military amateur 
in the one who had produced them. 

' What could bring a man of that talent, with that address, 
into the ranks ? ' she mused. * Persons of good family, of onca 
fine position, come here, they say, and live and die unrecognised 
under the Imperial flag. It is usually some dishonour that 
drives them out of their own worlds ; it may be so with him. 
Yet he does not look like one whom shame has touched ; he ig 
proud still — prouder than he knows. More hkely it is tho old, 
old story — a high name and a narrow fortune — the ruin of thou- 
sands ! He is French, I suppose ; a French aristocrat who 
has played auroi dejjoullU, most probably, and buried himsell 
and his history for ever beneath those two names that tell one 
iiothing — Louis Victor. WeU, it is no matter of mine. Very 

z 



338 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

possibly he is a mere adventurer with a good manner. This 
army here is a pot-pourri, they say, of all the varied scoun- 
drelisms of Europe ! ' 

She left the chess-table and went onward to the dressing and 
bath and bed-chambers, which opened In one suite from her 
boudoir, and resigned herself to the hands of her attendants 
for her dinner-toilet. 

The Moslem had said aright of her beauty ; and now, as her 
splendid hair was unloosened and gathered up afresh with a 
crescent-shaped comb of gold that was not brighter than the 
tresses themselves, the brilliant, haughty, thoughtful face was 
of a truth, as he had said, the fairest that had ever come from 
the Frankish shores to the hot African sea-board. Many beside 
the old Moslem had thought it ' the fairest that e'er the sun 
shone on,' and held one grave, lustrous glance of the blue im- 
perial eyes above aught else on earth. Many had loved her — 
all without return. Yet, although only twenty years had 
passed over her proud head, the Princess Corona d'Amagiie 
had been wedded and been widowed. 

Wedded, with no other sentiment than that of a certain 
pity and a certain honour for the man whose noble Spanish 
name she took. Widowed, by a death that was the seal of her 
marriage-sacrament, and left her his wife only in name and 
law. 

The marriage had left no chain upon her ; it had only made 
her mistress of wide wealth, of that villa on the Sicilian Sea, 
of that light spacious palace-dwelling in Paris that bore her 
name, of that vast majestic old castle throned on brown Estre- 
maduran crags, and looking down on mighty woods of cork 
and chestnut, and flashing streams of falling water hurling 
through the gorges. The death had left no regret upon her ; 
it only gave her for awhile a graver shadow over the brilliancy 
of her youth and of her beauty, and gave her for always — or 
for so long, at least, as she so chose to use it — a plea for that 
indifference to men's worship of her which their sex called 
heartlessness, which her own sex thought an ultra-refined co- 
quetry, and which was in real truth neither the one nor the 
other, but simply the negligence of a woman very difficult to 
touch, and, as it had seemed, impossible to charm. 

None knew quite aright the history of that marriage. Some 
were wont to whisper it ' ambition ; ' and, when that whisper 
came round to her. her splendid lips would curl with as splen- 
did a scorn. 



THE MISTRESS OF THE WHITE KING 339 

* Do they not know that scarce any marriage can mate us \ 
equally ? ' she would ask ; for she came of a great Line that 
thought few royal branches on equality with it ; and she che- 
rished as things of strictest creed the legends that gave her 
race, with its amber hair and its eyes of sapphire blue, tha,> 
blood M. Arthur in their veins. 

Of a surety it was not ambition that had allied her, on his 
deathbed, with Beltran Corona d'Amagiie ; but what it was 
the world could never tell precisely. The world would not 
have believed it if it had heard the truth — the truth that it 
had been, in a different fashion, a gleam of something of the 
same compassion that now made her merciful to a common 
trooper of Africa which had wedded her to the dead Spanish 
.Prince — compassion which, with many another rich and j 
generous thing, lay beneath her coldness and her pride as the \ 
golden stamen lies folded within the white virginal chill cup ' 
of the lily. 

She had never felt a touch of even passing preference to 
any one out of the many who had sought her high-born 
beauty ; she was too proud to be easily moved to such selec- 
tion, and she was far too habituated to homage to be wrought 
upon by it ever so slightly. She was of a noble, sunlit, 
gracious nature ; she had been always happy, always obeyed, 
always caressed, always adored ; it had rendered her im- 
measurably contemptuous of flattery ; it had rendered her a 
little contemptuous of pain. She had never had aught to 
regret ; it was not possible that she could realise what re- 
gret was. 

Hence men called and found her very cold ; yet those of 
her own kin whom she loved knew that the heart of a sum- 
mer rose was not warmer, nor sweeter, nor richer than hers. 
And first among these was her brother — at once her guar- 
dian and her slave — who thought her perfect, and would no 
more have crossed her will than he would have set his foot 
on her beautiful imperial head. Corona d'Amagiie had been 
his friend ; the only one for whom he had ever sought to 
break her unvarying indifference to her lovers, but for whom 
even he had pleaded vainly until one autumn season, when 
they had stayed together at a great archducal castle in South 
Austria. In one of the forest-glades, awaiting the fanfare of 
the hunt, she rejected, for the third time, the passionate 
supplication of the superb noble who ranked Y>'ith the 



340 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

D'Ossuna and the Medina- Sidonia. He rode from her in great 
bitterness, in grief that no way moved her — she was impor- 
tuned with these entreaties to weariness. An hour after he 
was brought past her, wounded and senseless ; he had saved 
her brother from imminent death at his own cost, and the 
tusks of the mighty Styrian boar had phmged through and 
through his frame, as they had met in the narrow woodland 
glade. 

* He will be a cripple — a paralysed cripple — for life 1 ' said 
the one whose life had been saved by his devotion to her that 
night ; and his lips shook a httle under his golden beard as 
he spoke. 

She looked at him ; she loved him well, and no homage to 
herself could have moved her as this sacrifice for him had 
done. 

* You think he will live ? ' she asked. 

' They say it is sure. He may live on to old age. But 
how ? My God I what a death in life I and all for my sake, 
in my stead 1 ' 

She was silent several moments ; then she raised her face, 
a little paler than it had been, but with a passionless resolve 
set on it. 

* Philip, we do not leave our debts unpaid. Go ; tell him 
I will be his wife.' 

* His wife — now 1 Venetia 1 ' 

* Go I ' she said, briefly. * Tell him what I say.' 

* But what a sacrifice 1 in your beauty, your youth ' 

* He did not count cost. Are we less generous ? Go — 
tell him.' 

He was told ; and was repaid. Such a light of unutterable 
joy burnt through the misty agony of his eyes as never, it 
seemed to those who saw, had beamed before in mortal eyes. 
He did not once hesitate at the acceptance of her self-surrender ; 
he only pleaded that the marriage ceremony should pass be- 
tween them that night. 

There were notaries and many priests in the great ducal I 
household ; all was done as he desired. She consented with- 1 
out wavering ; she had passed her word, she would not have 
withdrawn it if it had been a thousand times more bitter in 
its fulfilment. The honour of her house was dearer to her than 
any individual happiness. This man for them had lost peace, 
health, joy, strength, every hope of life ; to dedicate her own 



THE MISTRESS OF THE WHITE KING 341 

life to hini; as he had vainly prayed her when in the full glo^ 
and vigour of his manhood, was the only means by which their 
vast debt to him could be paid. To so pay it was the instant 
choice of hex-higi-Xiode of honour, and of her generosity that 
would not be outrun. Moreover, she pitied him unspeakably, 
though her heart had no tenderness for him ; she had dis- 
missed him with cold disdain, and he had gone from her to 
save the only life she loved, and was stretched a stricken, 
broken, helpless wreck, with endless years of pain and weari- 
ness before him I 

At midnight, in the great dim magnificence of the state 
chamber where he lay, and with the low, soft chanting of the 
chapel choir, from afar echoing through the incensed air, she 
bent her haughty head down over his couch, and the marriage 
benediction was spoke over them. 

His voice was faint and broken, but it had the thrill of £ 
passionate triumph in it. When the last words were uttered, 
he lay awhile, exhausted, silent, only looking ever upward at 
her with his dark, dreamy eyes, in which the old love glanced 
80 strangely through the blindness of pain. Then he smiled 
as the last echo of the choral melodies died softly on the 
silence. H-^ ^ " 

* Thp.t is joy enough I Ah ! h-a. -ce no fear. With the dawifj ^^^ ' 
you will be fi-ee once more. Did you think that I could have 
taken your sacrifice ? I knew well, let them say as they 
would, that I should not live the night through. But, l^st 
existence should linger to curse me, to chain you, I rent the 
linen bands off m.y wounds an hour ago. All their science^ 
will not put back the life now ! My limbs are dead, and the 
cold steals up ! Ah, love I ah, love ! You never thought how \ 
men can suffer I But have no grief for me. I am happy. 1 
Bend your head down, and lay your lips on mine once. Youf ' 
are my own I — death is sweeter than hfe I ' *^ 

And before sunrise he died. 

Some shadow from that fatal and tragic midnight marriage 
rested on her still. Though she was blameless, some vague 
remorse ever haunted her : though she had been so whoUy 
guiltless of it, this death for her sake ever seemed in some 
sort of her bringing. Men thought her only colder, only 
prouder ; but they erred. She was one of those women who, 
beneath the courtly negligence of a chill manner, are capable of 
infinite tenderness, infinite nobility, and infinite self-reproach. 



342 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

A great French painter once, in Rome, looking on her from 
a distance, shaded his eyes with his hand, as if her beauty, 
like the sun, dazzled him. ' Exquisite — superb ! ' he mut- 
tered ; and he was a man whose own ideals were so matchless 
that living women rarely could wring out his praise. * She 
is nearly perfect, your Princess Corona 1 ' 

' Nearly ! ' cried a Roman sculptor. * What, in Heaven's 
name, can she want ? ' 

' Only one thing i ' 

'And that is ?' 

* To have loved.' 

Wherewith he turned into the Greco. 

He had found the one flaw — and it was still there. WTiat 
he missed in her was still wanting. 



^f-s 



OHAPTER XXIII 

/\ THE LITTLE LEOPABD OF FBANOB 

«^. < Y'ld ce que &est la gloire — au grahat I ' 

The contemptuous sentence was crushed through Cigarette's 
tight-pressed bright-red lips, with an irony sadder than tears. 
She was sitting on the edge of a grahat, hard as wood, com- 
fortless as a truss of straw, and looking down the long hospital- 
room, with its endless rows of beds and its hot sun shining 
blindingly on its glaring whitewashed walls. 

She was well known and well loved there. W^hen her little 
brilliant-hued figure fluttered, like some scarlet bird of Africa, 
down the dreary length of those chambers of misery, bloodless 
lips, close-clinched in torture, would stir with a smile, would 
move with a word of welcome. No tender-voiced dove-eyed 
Sister of Orders of Mercy, gliding grey and soft, and like a 
hving psalm of consolation, beside those couches of misery, 
bore with them the infinite inexpressible charm that the 
Friend of the Flag brought to the sufferers. The Sisters were 
good, were gentle, were valued as they merited by the greatest 
blackguard prostrate there : but they never smiled, they never 
took the dying heart of a man back with one glance to the 
days of his childhood, they never gave a sweet wild snatch of 



THE LITTLE LEOPARD OF FRANCE 343 

song like a bird's on a spring-blossoming bough that thrilled 
through half -dead senses, with a thousand voices from a thou- 
sand buried hours. ' But the Little One,' as said a gaunt 
grey-bearded Zephyr once, where he lay with the death-chill 
stealing slowly up his jagged, torn frame — * the Little One — 
do you see — she is youth, she is life ; she is all we have lost. 
That is her charm I The Sisters are good women, they are 
very good ; but they only pity us. The Little One, she loves 
us. That is the difference : do you see ? ' 

It was all the difference — a wide difference ; she loved them 
all, with the warmth and fire of her young heart, for sake of 
France and of their common Flag. And though she was but 
a wild wayward mischievous gamin, a gamin all over though 
in a girl's form, men would tell in camp and hospital, with 
great tears coursing down their brown scarred cheeks, how 
her touch would lie softly as a snowflake on their heated fore- 
heads, how her watch would be kept by them through long 
nights of torment, how her gifts of golden trinkets would be 
sold or pawned as soon as received to buy them ice or wine, 
and how in their delirium the sweet fresh voice of the child 
of the regiment would soothe them, singing above their 
wretched beds some carol or chant of their own native pro- 
vince, which it always seemed she must know by magic ; for, 
were it Basque, or Breton, were it a sea-lay of Vendee or a 
mountain -song of the Orientales, were it a mere ringing 
rhyme for the mules of Alsace, or a wild bold romanesque 
from the country of Berri — Cigarette knew each and all, and 
never erred by any chance, but ever sung to every soldier the 
rhythm familiar from his infancy, the melody of his mother's 
cradle-song and of his first love's lips. And there had been 
times when those songs suddenly breaking through the dark- 
ness of night, suddenly lulling the fiery anguish of wounds, 
had made the men who one Jiour before had been like mad 
dogs, like goaded tigers, men full of the lusts of slaughter 
and the lust of the senses, and chained powerless and blas- 
pheming to a bed of agony, tremble and shudder at them- 
selves, and turn their faces to the wall and weep like children, 
and fall asleep, at length, with wondering dreams of God. 

' Via ce que c'est la gloire — au grabat I ' said Cigarette 
now grinding her pretty teeth. She was in her most revo- 
lutionary and reckless mood, drumming the ratajjlan with her 
spurred heels, and sitting smoking on the corner of old Miou- 



344 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

Matou's mattress. Miou-Matou, who had acquired that tills 
among the joyeux for his scientific powers of making a tomcat 
into a stew, so divine tliat you could not tell it from rabbit, 
being laid up with a ball in his hip, a spearhead between his 
shoulders, a rib or so broken, and one or two other little trifling 
casualties. 

Miou-Matou, who looked very like an old grizzly bear, 
laughed in the depths of his great hairy chest. * Dream of 
glory, and end on a grabat! Just so, just so. And yet one 
has pleasures — to sweep off an Arbico's neck nice and clean — 
swish ! ' And he described a circle with his lean brawny arm 
with as infinite a relish as a dilettante, grown blind, would 
listen thirstily to the description of an exquisite bit of Faience 
or Delia Quercia work. 

' Pleasures 1 My God ! Infinite, endless misery I ' mur- 
mured a man on her right hand. He was not thirty years cf 
age, with a delicate, dark, beautiful head that might have 
. passed as model to a painter for a St. John. He was dying 
fast of the most terrible form of pulmonary maladies. 

Cigarette flashed her bright falcon glance over him. 

* Well 1 is it not misery that is glory ? ' 

* We think that it is when we are children. God help us ! ' 
murmured the man who lay dying of lung-disease. 

^ ' Ouf ! Then we think rightly ! Glory ! Is it the cross, the 



star, the baton ? No ! ^ He who wins those runs his horpe 
up on a hill, out of shot range, and watches through his glass 
how his troops surge up, wave on wave, in the great sea oi 
blood. It is misery that is glory — the misery that toils with 
bleeding feet under burning suns without complaint ; that 
lies haif-dead through the long night with but one care — t^ 
keep the torn flag free from the conqueror's touch ; that bear? 
the rain of blows in punishment, rather than break silence 
and buy release by betrayal of a comrade's trust ; that is 
beaten like the mule, and galled like the horse, and starved 
like the camel, and housed like the dog, and yet does the 

' Having received ardent reproaches from field-officers and commanders 
of divJBions for the injustice done their services by this sentence, I beg to 
assure them that the sentiment is Cigarette's — not mine. I should be very 
Bony for an instant to seem to depreciate that ' genius of command ' with- 
out whose guidance an army is but a rabble, or to underrate that noblest 
courage which accepts the burden of arduous responsibilities and of duties 
U bitter in anxiety aa they are precious in honour. 



THE LITTLE LEOPARD OF FRANCE 345 

thing which is right, and the thing which is brave, despite 
all ; that suffers, and endures, and pours out his blood like 
water to the thirsty sands, whose thirst is never stilled, and 
goes up in the morning sun to the combat, as though death 
were paradise that the Arbicos dream, Imowing the whik 
that no paradise waits save the crash of the hoof through the 
throbbing brain, or the roll of the gun-carriage over the 
writhing limb. That is glory. The misery that is heroism 
because France needs it, because a soldier's honour wills it. 
That is glory. It is here to-day in the hospital as it never ig 
in the Cour des Princes, where the glittering host of the mar- j 
ehals gather I ' ^ 

Her voice rang clear as a clarion ; the warm blood burnt 
in her bright cheeks ; the swift, fierce pathetic eloquence of 
her nation moved her, and moved strangely the hearts of her 
hearers; for though she could neither read nor write, there 1 
was in Cigarette the germ of that power which the world | 
mistily calls genius. ' 

There were-men lying in that sick-chamber brutalised, 
crime-stained, ignorant as the bullocks of the plains, and like 
them, reared and driven for the slaughter, yet there was not 
one among them to whom some ray of light failed to come 
from those words, through whom some thrill failed to pass as 
they heard them. Out yonder in the free air, in the barrack- 
court, or on the plains, the Little One would rate them 
furiously, mock them mercilessly, rally them with the flat of 
a sabre, if they were mutinous, and lash them with the most 
pitiless ironies if they were grumbling ; but here, in the 
hospital, the Little One loved them, and they knew it, and 
that love gave a flute-like music to the passion of her voice. 

Then she laughed, and drummed the rataplan again with 
her brass heel. 

* All the same, one is not in paradise au grabat, eh, P^j-e 
Matou ? ' she said curtly. She was half impatient of her 
own momentary lapse into enthusiasm, and she knew the 
temper of her * children ' as accurately as a bugler knows 
the notes of the reveille — knew that they loved to laugh even 
with the death-rattle in their throats, and with their hearts 
half breaking over a comrade's corpse, would cry in burlesque 
mirth, * Ah, le bon zig I II a avale sa cartoiiche ! ' ^ 

' Ah, the good fellow I He's swallowed his own oartouehe ! 



346 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

' Paradise 1 ' growled P^re Matou. ' Ouf ! Who wants 
that ? If one had a few bidons of brandy, now ' 

* Brandy ? Oh-h6. You are to be much more of aristo- 
crats now than that I ' cried Cigarette, with an immeasurable 
satire curling on her rosy, piquant lips. * The Silver Pheasants 
have taken to patronise you. Ma cantcke / if I were you, I 
would not touch a glass, nor eat a fig ; you will not, if you 
have the spirit of a rabbit. You ! Fed like dogs with the 
leavings of her table — pardieu ! that is not for soldiers of 
France I ' 

* Eh ? What dost thou say ? ' growled Miou- Matou, peer- 
ing up under his grey, shaggy brows. 

' Only that a grande dame has sent you champagne. That 
is all. Sapristi I How easy it is to play the saint and Samaritan 
with two wards to one's maitre d hotel, and a rouleau of gold 
that one never misses I The rich they can buy all things, 
you see, even heaven, so cheap ! ' With which withering 
satire Cigarette left P^re Matou in the conviction that he 
must be already dead and among the angels if the people 
began to talk of champagne to him ; and flitting down between 
the long rows of beds with the old disabled veterans who 
tended them, skimmed her way, like a bird as she was, into 
another great chamber, filled, like the first, with suffering in 
all stages and at all years, from the boy-conscript, tossing in 
African fever, to the white-haired campaigner of a hundred 
wounds. 

Cigarette was as ca,ustic as a Voltaire this morning. Coming 
through the entrance of the hospital, she had casually heard 
that Madame la Princesse Corona d'Amagiie had made a gift 
of singular munificence and mercy to the invalid soldiers — a 
gift of wine, of fruit, of flowers, that would brighten their 
long dreary hours for many weeks. Who Madame la Princesse 
might be she knew nothing ; but the title was enough, she 
was a silver pheasant — bah 1 And Cigarette hated the aristo- 
crats — when they were of the sex feminine. * An aristocrat 
in adversity is an eagle,* she would say ; * but an aristocrat 
in prosperity is a peacock.' Which was the reason why she 
flouted glittering young nobles with all the insolence imagin- 
able, but took the part of * Marquise,' of * Bel-^-faire-peur,' 
and of such wanderers like them, who had buried their six- 
teen quarterings under the black shield of the Battalion of 
Africa. With a word here and a touch there, tender, soft, 



THE LITTLE LEOPARD OF FRANCE 347 

ftnd bright, eincG, however ironic her mood, she never brought 
anything except sunshine to those who lay in such sore need 
of it, beholding the sun in the heavens only through the 
narrow chink of a hospital window. At last she reached the 
bed she came most specially to visit — a bed on which was 
stretched the emaciated form of a man once beautiful as a 
Greek dream of a god. 

The dews of a great agony stood on his forehead ; his 
teeth were tight clinched on lips white and parched ; and his 
immense eyes, with the heavy circles round them, were 
fastened on vacancy, with the yearning misery that gleams in 
the eyes of a Spanirh bull when it is struck again and again 
by the matador, and yet cannot die. 

She bent over him softly. 

* Tiens, Morisieur L6on ! I have brought you some ice.' 
His weary eyes turned on her gratefully ; he sought to 

speak, but the effort brought the spasm on his lungs afresh ; 
it shook him with horrible violence from head to foot, and the 
foam on his auburn beard was red with blood. 

There was no one by to watch him ; he was sure to die ; a 
week sooner or later — what mattered it ? He was useless as 
a soldier ; good only to be thrown into a pit, with some 
quicklime to hasten destruction and do the work of the slower 
earthworms. 

Cigarette said not a word, but she took out of some vine- 
leaves a cold, hard lump of ice, and held it to him ; the 
delicious coolness and freshness in that parching noontide 
heat stilled the convulsion ; his eyes thanked her, though his 
lips could not ; he lay panting, exhausted, but relieved ; and 
she — thoughtfully for her — slid herself down on the floor, 
and began singing low and sweetly as a fairy might sing on 
the raft of a water-Uly leaf. She sung quadriales, to be sure, 
B Granger's songs and odes of the camp ; for she knew of no 
hymn but the Marseillaise, and her chants were all chants like 
the La^is Veneris. But the voice that gave them was pure as 
the voice of a thrush in the spring, and the cadence of its 
music was so silvery sweet that it soothed like a spell all the 
fever-racked brains, all the pain-tortured spirits. 

* Ah ! that is sweet,' murmured the dying man, * It is 
like the brooks — like the birds — like the winds in the 
leaves.' 

He wus but half conscious ; but the lulling of that gliding 



348 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

voice brought him peace. And Cigarette sung on, only 
moving to reach him some fresh touch of ice, while time 
travelled on, and the first afternoon shadows crept across the 
bare floor. Every now and then, dimly through the openings 
of the windows, came a distant roll of drums, a burst of 
military music, an echo of the laughter of a crowd ; and then 
her head went up eagerly, an impatient shade swept across 
her expressive face. 

It was a fete day in Algiers ; there were flags and banners 
fluttering from the houses, there were Arab races and Arab 
manoeuvres, there was a review of troops for some foreign 
general, there were all the mirth and the mischief that she 
loved, and that never went on without her, and she knew 
well enough that from mouth to mouth there was sure to be 
asking, ' Mais oil done est Cigarette ? ' Cigarette who was the 
Generalissima of Africa I 

But still she never moved ; though all her vivacious life was 
longing to be out and in their midst, on the back of a desert 
horse, on the head of a huge drum, perched on the iron 
support of a high- hung lantern, standing on a cannon while 
the Horse Artillery swept full gallop, firing down a volley of 
argot on the hot homage of a hundred lovers, drinking creamy 
liqueurs and filling her pockets with bonbons from handsome 
subalterns and aides-de-camp, doing as she had done ever 
since she could remember her first rataplan. But she never 
moved. She knew that in the general gala these sick-beds 
would be left more deserted and less soothed than ever. She 
knew, too, that it was for the sake of this man, lying dying 
here from the lunge of a Bedouin lance through his lungs, 
that the ivory wreaths and crosses and statuettes had been 
sold. 

And Cigarette had done more than this ere now many a 
time for her ' children.' 

The day stole on ; L6on Ramon lay very quiet ; the ice 
for his chest and the song for his ear gave him that semi- 
oblivion, dreamy and comparatively painless, which was the 
only mercy which could come to him. All the chamber was 
unusually still ; on three of the beds the sheet had been drawn 
over the face of the sleepers, who had sunk to a last sleep 
Bince the morning rose. The shadows lengthened, the hours 
followed one another ; Cigarette sang on to herself with few 
pauses : whenever she did so pause to lay soaked linen on 



THE LriTLE LEOPARD OF FRANCE 349 

the soldier's hot forehead, or to tend him gently in those 
paroxysms that wrenched the clotted blood from off his lungs, 
there was a light on her face that did not corns from the 
golden heat of the African sun. 

Such a light those who know well the Chilrken of France 
may have seen, in battle or in insurrection, grow beautiful 
upon the young face of a conscript or of boy-insurgent as he 
lifted a dying comrade, or pushed to the front to be slain in 
another's stead ; the face that a moment before had been keen 
for the slaughter as the eyes of a kite, and recklessly gay as 
the saucy refrain the lips carolled. 

A step sounded on the bare boards ; she looked up ; and 
the wounded man raised his weary lids with a gleam of glad- 
ness under them ; Cecil bent above his couch. 

* Dear L6on ! how is it with you ? ' 

His voice was softened to infinite tenderness ; L^on Ramon 
had been for many a year his comrade and his friend ; an 
artist oLParis, a nian of marvellous genius, of high idealic 
creeds, who, in a fatal moment of rash despair, had flung his 
talents, his broken fortunes, his pure and noble spirit, into 
the fiery furnace of the hell of military Africa ; and now lay 
dying here, a common soldier, forgotten as though he were 
already in his grave. 

' The review is just over. I got ten minutes to spare, and 
came to you the instant I could,* pursued Cecil. * See here 
what I bring you ! You, with your artist's soul, will feel 
yourself all but well when you look on these I ' 

He spoke with a hopefulness he could never feel, for he 
knew that the life of Leon Ramon was doomed ; and as the 
other strove to gain breath enough to answer him, he gently 
motioned him to silence, and placed on his bed some peaches 
bedded deep in moss and circled round with stephanotis, with 
magnolia, with roses, with other rarer flowers sdlL 

The face of the artist-soldier hghtened with a longing joy; 
his lips quivered. 

* Ah, God ! they have the fragrance of my France I ' 

Cecil said nothing, but moved them nearer in to the clasp 
of bis eager hands. Cigarette he did not see. 

There were some moments of silence, while the dark eyes 
of the dying man thirstily dwelt on the beauty of the flowers, 
and his dry ashen Hps seemed to drink in their periumes as 
those athirst drink in water. 



350 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

' They are beautiful,' he said faintly, at length. ' They 
have our youth in them. How came you by them, dear 
friend ? ' 

* They are not due to me,* answered Cecil, hurriedly. 
•Madame la Princesse Corona sends them to you. She has 
sent great gifts to the hospital — wines, fruits, a profusion of 
flowers, such as those. Through her, these miserable cham- 
bers will bloom for awhile like a garden ; and the best winea 
of Europe will slake your thirst in lieu of that miserable 
tisane.' 

*It is very kind,' murmured Leon Ramon, languidly ; life 
was too feeble in him to leave him vivid pleasures in aught. 
* But I am ungrateful. La Cigarette here — she has been so 
good, so tender, so pitiful. For once I have almost not missed 
you ! ' 

Cigarette, thus alluded to, sprang to her feet with her head 
tossed back, and all her cynicism back again ; a hot colour was 
on her cheeks, the light had passed from her face, she struck 
hev white teeth together. She had thought * Bel-^-faire- 
peur ' chained to his regiment in the field of manoeuvre, or 
she would never have come thither to tend his friend. She 
had felt happy in her self-sacrifice ; she had grown into a 
gentle, pensive, merciful mood singing here by the side of 
the dying soldier, and now the first thing she heard was of 
the charities of Madame la Princesse ! 

That was all her reward ! Cigarette received the recom- 
pense that usually comes to generous natures which have 
strung themselves to some self- surrender that costs them 
dear. 

Cecil looked at her surprised, and smiled. 

* Ma belle, is it you ? That is indeed good. You were 
the good angel of my life the other night, and to-day come to 
bring consolation to my friend ' 

* " Good angel ! " Chut, M. Victor I One does not know 
those nwts sucres in Algiers. There is nothing of the angel 
about me, I hope. Your friend, too ! Prut-tut 1 Do you 
think I have never been used to taking care of my comrades 
in hospital before you played the sick-nurse here ? ' 

f She spoke with all her brusque petulance in arms again ; 

' she hated that he should imagine she had sacrificed her fete- 
day to L6on Ramon, because the artist-trooper was dear to 
him ; she hated him to suppose that she had waited there all 



I 



THE LITTLE LEOPARD OF FRANCE 351 

the hours through on the chance that he would find her at her 
post, and admire her for her charity. Cigarette waa far too 
proud and disdainful a young soldier to seek either his presence 
or his praise. 

He smiled again ; he did not understand the caprices of her 
changeful moods, and he did not feel that interest in her which 
would have made him divine the threads of their vagaries. 

' I did not think to offend you, my little one,' he said, 
gently. * I meant only to thank you for your goodness to 
Ramon in my absence.' 

Cigarette shrugged her shoulders. 

* There was no goodness, and there need be no thanks. Ask 
Pere Matou how often I have sat with him hours through.' 

' But on a fete-day ! And you who love pleasure, and 
gi'ace it so well ' 

* Ouf ! I have had so much of it,* said the Little One, 
contemptuously. * It is so tame to me. Clouds of dust, 
scurry of horses, fanfare of trumpets, thunder of drums, and 
all for nothing ! Bah ! I have been in a dozen battles — I— 
and I am not likely to care much for a sham fight.' 

* Nay, she is unjust to herself,' murmured L^on Ramon. 

* She gave up the fete to do this mercy — it has been a great 
one. She is more generous than she will ever allow. Here, 
Cigarette, look at these scarlet rosebuds ; they are like your 
bright cheeks. Will you have them ? I have nothing else 
to give.' 

* Rosebuds ! ' echoed Cigarette, with supreme scorn. 

* Rosebuds for me ? I know no rose but the red of the tri- 
color ; and I could not tell a weed from a flower. Besides, 
I told Miou- Matou just now, if my children do as I tell 
them, they will not take a leaf or a peach-stone from this 
grajide dame — how does she call herself? — Madame Corona 
d'Amagiie I ' 

Cecil looked up quickly : * Why not ? ' 
Cigarette flashed on him her brilliant brown eyes with a 
fire that amazed him. 

* Because we are soldiers, not paupers 1 * 
'Surely; but ' 

' And it is not for the silver pheasants, who have done 
nothing to deserve their life but lain in nests of cotton wool, 
ajid eaten grain that others sow and sheU for them and spread 
their shining plumage in a sun that never clouds above their 



352 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

heads, to insult, with the insolence of their " pity ** and their 
^* charity," the heroes of France, who perish, as they have 
lived, for their Country and their Flag ! ' 

It was a superb peroration ! If the hapless flowers lying 
there had been a cartel of outrage to the concrete majesty of 
the French Army, the Army's champion could not have spoken 
' with more impassioned force and scorn. 

Cecil laughed slightly; but he answered, with a certain 
annoyance : 

' There is no '* insolence " here ; uo question of it. Madame 
la Princesse desired to offer some gift to the soldiers of Algiers ; 
I suggested to her that to increase the scant comforts of the 
hospital, and gladden the weary eyes of sick men with beauties 
that the Executive never dreams of bestowing, would be the 
most merciful and acceptable mode of exercising her kindness. 
If blame there be in the matter, it is mine.' 

In defending the generosity of what he knew to be a genuine 
and sincere wish to gratify his comrades, he betrayed what he 
did not intend to have revealed, namely, the conversation that 
had passed between himself and the Spanish princess. Ciga- 
rette caught at the inference with the quickness of her light- 
ning-like thought. 

*0h-h6! So it is she/* 

There was a whole world of emphasis, scorn, meaning 
wrath, comprehension, and irony in the four monosyllables ; 
jhe dying man looked at her with languid wonder. 

' She ? Who ? What story goes with these roses ? ' 

* None,' said Cecil, with the same inflection of annoyance 
in his voice ; to have his passing encounter with this beautif u 
patrician pass into a barrack canard, through the unsparinf 
jests of the soldiery around him, was a prospect very unwel 
come to him. ' None whatever. A generous thoughtfulnes; 

yX for our common necessities as soldiers ' 

» f^ * ^'^^ ' ' interrupted Cigarette, before his phrase was one 
\'V I ^^^^^ finished. ' The stalled mare will not go with the wili 
^^ I coursers ; an aristocrat may live with us, but he will alway 
cling to his old order. This is the story that runs with th 
roses. Miladi was languidly insolent over some ivory chess 
men, and Corporal Victor thought it divine, because languc 
and insolence are the twin gods of the noblesse, parbleu 
Miladi, knowing no gods but those two, worships them, an 
sends to the soldiers of France, as the sort of sacrifice h€ 



THE LHTLE LEOPARD OF FRANCE 355 

gods love, fruits and wines that, day after day, are set on her 
table, to be touched, if tasted at all, with a butterfly's sip ; 
and Corporal Victor finds this a charity sublime ; — to give 
what cost nothing, and scatter a few crumbs out from the 
profusion of a life of waste and indulgence ! And I say that 
if my children are of my fashion of thinking, they will choke 
like dogs dying of thirst rather than slake their throats with 
alms cast to them as if they were beggars 1 ' - — 

With which fiery and bitter enunciation of her views on 
the gifts of the Princess Corona d'Amagiie, Cigarette struck 
light to her briXle-gueule, and thrusting it between her lips, 
with her hands in the folds of her scarlet waist-sash, went off 
with the light, swift step natural to her, exaggerated into the 
carriage she had learned of the Zouaves, laughing her good- 
morrows noisily to this and that trooper as she passed their 
couches, and not dropping her voice even as she passed the 
place where the dead lay, but singing, as loud as she could, 
the most impudent drinking-song out oi the taverns of the 
Spahis that ever celebrated wine, women, and war in the law- 
lessness of the lingua Sabir. 

Her wrath was hot, and her heart heavy within her. She 
had given up her whole fete-day to wait on the anguish and 
to soothe the soUtude of his friend lying dying there ; and her 
reward had been to hear him speak of this aristocrat's dona- 
tions, that cost her nothing but the trouble of a few words of 
command to her household, as though they were the saintly 
charities of some angel from heaven ! 

* Diantre 1 ' she muttered, as her hand wandered to the ever 
beloved forms of the pistols within her sash. ' Cliaffaur^es 
or Achmet, or any of them, would throw a draugh: of wine in 
his face, and lay him dead for me with a pass or two ten 
minutes after. Why don't I bid them ? I have a mind * 

In that moment she could have shot him dead herself with- 
out a second's thought. Storm and sunUght swept, one after 
another, with electrical rapidity at all times through her vivid, 
changeful temper ; and here she had been wounded and been 
stung in the very hour in which she had subdued her national 
love of mirth, and her childhke passion for show, and her 
impatience of all confinement, and her hatred of all things 
mournful, to the attainment of this self-negation ! Moreover, 
there mingled with it the fierce and intolerant heat of 
the passionate and scarce-conscious jealousy of an utterly 



354 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

untamed nature, and of Gallic blood, quick and hot as the 
Bteaming springs of the Geyser. 

* You have vexed her, Victor,' said Leon Ramon, as she was 
lost to sight through the doors of the great desolate chamber. 

' I hope not ! I do not know how,' answered Cecil. ' It 
is impossible to follow the windings of her wayward caprices. 
A child — a soldier — a dancer — a brigand — a spoilt beauty — 
a mischievous gamin — how is one to treat such a httle fagot 
of opposites ? ' 

The other smiled. 

* Ah ! you do not know the Little One yet. She is worth 
a study. I painted her years ago — " La Vivandiere k Sept 
Ans." There was not a picture in the Salon that winter that 
was sought like it. I had travelled in Algeria then ; I had 
not entered the army. The first thing I saw of Cigarette was 
this : She was seven years old ; she had been beaten black 
and blue ; she had had two of tier tiny teeth knocked out. 
The men were furious, she was a pet with them ; and she 
would not say who had done it, though she knew twenty 
swords would have beaten him flat as a fritter if she had 
given his name. I got her to sit to me some days after. I 
pleased her with her own picture. I asked her to tell me why 
she would not say who had ill-treated her. She put her head 
on one side like a robin, and told me, in a whisper : "It was 
one of my comrades — because I would not steal for him. I 
would not have the army know — it would demorahse them. 
If a French soldier ever does a cowardly thing, another French 
soldier must not betray it." That was Cigarette — at seven 
years. The esprit du corps was stronger than her own wrongs. 
What do you say to that nature ? ' 

' That it is superb I — that it might be moulded to anything. 
The pity is * 

* Ah, tais-toi I ' said the artist- trooper, half wearily, half 
laughingly. * Spare me the old world-worn, threadbare for- 
mulas. Because the flax and the laleza blossom for use, and 
the garden -flowers grow trained and pruned, must there be no 
bud that opens for mere love of the sun, and swings free in the 
wind in its fearless fair- fashion ? Believe me, dear Victor, it 
is the lives which follow no previous rule that do the most 
good and give the most harvest.' 

* Surely. Only for this child — a woman — in her fa- 
tura -' 



THE LITTLE LEOPARD OF FRANCE ' ^55 

* Her future ? Well, she will die, I dare say, some bright / 
day or another, at the head of a regiment, with some desperate 
battle turned by the valour of her charge, and the sight of the 
torn tricolor upheld in her little hands. That is what Ciga- j j 
rette hopes for — why not ? There will always be a million of ' ^ 
commonplace women readj^to keep up the decorous traditions 

of their sex, and sit in safety over their needles by the side of 
their hearths. One little lioness here and there in a genera-^ 
tion cannot do overmuch harm.* 

Cecil was silent. He would not cross the words of the 
wounded man by saying what might bring a train of less 
pleasant thoughts — saying what, in truth, was in his mind, . 
that the future which he had meant for the little Friend of •■ .<^ 
the Flag was not that of any glorious death by combat, but; ^^ 
that of a Hfe (unless no buUet early cut its silver cord in! j» 
twain) when youth should have fled, and have carried fori •** 
ever with it her numberless graces, and left in its stead that; 5 
ribaldry-stained, drink-defiled, hardened, battered, joyless,! -.^ 
cruel, terrible thing which is unsightly and repugnant to even 
the lowest among men, which is as the lees of the drunk wine, 
as the ashes of the burnt-out fires, as the discord of the i "^ 
broken and earth -clogged lyre. 

Cigarette was charming now — a fairy-story set into living 11 t 
motion — a fantastic little firework out of an extravaganza, 
with the impudence of a boy-harlequin and the witching 
kittenhood of a girl's beauty. But when this youth that 
made it all fair should have passed (and youth passes soon 
when thus adrift on the world), when there should be left in 
its stead only shamelessness, hardihood, vice, weariness — 
those who found the prettiest jest in her now would be the 
first to cast aside, with an oath, the charred wrecked 
rocket-stick of a life from which no golden careless stream of 
many-coloured fires of coquette caprices would rise and en- 
chant them then. 

' Who is it that sent these ? ' asked Leon Ramon, later 
on, as his hands still wandered am.ong the flowers : for the 
moment he was at peace ; the ice and the hours of quietude 
had calmed him. 

Cecil told him again. 

* What does Cigarette know of her ? ' he pursued. 

* Nothing, except, I believe, she knew that Madame Corona 
accepted my chess -carvings,' 

4 A 2 



•5 



356 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

* Ah I I thought the Little One was jealous, Victor.' 
* Jealous ? Pshaw I Of whom ? * 

* Of any one you admire — especially of this grande dame,* 

' Absurd ! ' said Cecil, with a sense of annoyance. ' Ciga- 
rette is far too bold a little trooper to have any thoughts of 
those folUes ; and as for this grande dame, as you call her, I 
shall, in every likelihood, never see her again — unless when 
the word is given to "Carry Swords" or "Lances" at the 
General's Salute, where she reins her horse beside M. le Ma- 
rechal's at a review, as I have done this morning.' 

The keen ear of the sick man caught the inflection of an 
impatience, of a mortification, in the tone that the speaker 
himself was unconscious of. He guessed the truth — that 
Cecil had never felt more restless under the shadow of the 
Eagles than he had done when he had carried his sword up 
in the salute as he passed with his regiment the flagstaff 
where the aristocracy of Algiers had been gathered about the 
Marshal and his staff, and the azure eyes of Madame la Prin- 
cesse had glanced carelessly and critically over the long line 
of grey horses of those Chasseurs d'Afrique among whom he 
rode a bas-officier. 

* Cigarette is right,' said Ramon, with a slight smile. 
* Your heart is with your old order. You are " a/ristocrat au 
bout des ongles.*' ' 

* Indeed, I am not, mon ami ; I am a mere trooper.' 

' Now ! Well, keep your history as you have always done, 
if you will. What my friend was matters nothing ; I know 
well what he is, and how true a friend. As for Miladi, she 
will be best out of your path, Victor. WoiagnJLGpdJ:7-they 
are so fatal ! * 

* Does not our folly make their fatality ? * 

' Not always ; not often. The madness may be ours, but 
they sow it. Ah 1 do they not know how to rouse and enrage 
it ; how to fan, to burn, to lull, to pierce, to slake, to inflame, 
to entice, to sting ? Heavens 1 so well they know — that their 
beauty must come, one thinks, out of hell itself I * 

His great eyes gleamed like fire, his hollow chest panted 
for breath, the sweat stood out on his temples. Cecil sought 
to soothe him, but his words rushed on with the impetuous 
course of the passionate memories that arose in him. 

* Do you know what brought me here ? No 1 As little as 
I know what brought you, though we have bee^? close com- 



THE LITTLE LEOPARD OF FRANCE ,ii(;t$7 

rades all these years. Well, it was she 1 I was an artist. 
I had no money, I had few friends ; but I had youth, I had ' 
ambition, I had, I think, genius, till she killed it. I loved 
my art with a great love, and I was happy. Even in Pa^ia 
one can be so happy without wealth, while one is young. 
The mirth of the Barriere — the grotesques of the Halles — 
the wooden booths on New Year's Day — the bright midnight 
crowds under the gaslights — the bursts of music from the gay 
caf^s — the grey little nuns flitting through the snow — the 
Mardi Gras and the Old- World fooleries — the summer Sun- 
days under the leaves while we laughed like children — the 
silent dreams through the length of the Louvre — dreams that 
went home with us and made our garret bright with their 
visions — one was happy in them — happy, happy ! ' 

His eyes were still fastened on the blank white wall before 
him while he spoke, as though the things that his words 
sketched so faintly were painted in all their vivid colours on 
the dull blank surface. And so in truth they were, as re- 
membrance pictured all the l^hcusand perished hours of his 
youth. 

' Happy — until she looked at me,' he pursued, while his 
voice flew in feverish haste over the words. ' Why would 
she not let me be ? She had them all in her golden nets ; 
nobles, and princes, and poets, and soldiers, she swept them 
in far and wide. She had her empire ; why must she seek 
out a man who had but his art and his youth, and steal those ? 
Women are so insatiate, look you ; though they held all the 
world, they would not rest if one mote in the air swam in 
sunshine free of them I It was the first year I touched 
triumph that I saw her. They began for the first time to ' 
speak of me ; it was the little painting of Cigarette, as a 
child of the army, that did it. Ah, God ! I thought myself 
already so famous 1 Well, she sent for me to take her picture, 
and I went. I went and I painted her as Cleopatra — by her 
wish. Ah ! it was a face for Cleopatra — the eyes that burn 
your youth dead, the lips that kiss your honour blind 1 A face 
— my God I how beautiful 1 She had set herself to gain my 
soul ; and as the picture grew, and grew, and grew, so my Ufe 
grew into hers tiU I lived only by her breath. Why did she 
want my life *? she had so many I She had rich lives, great 
lives, grand lives at her bidding ; and yet she knew no rest 
fcill she had leaned down from her cruel height and had seized 



3S8 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

mine, that had nothing on earth but the joys of the sun and 
the dew, and the falling of night, and the dawning of day 
that are given to the birds of the fields.' 

His chest heaved with the spasms that with each throe 
seemed to tear his frame asunder. Still he conquered them, 
and his words went on, his eyes fastened on the burning white 
glare of the wall as though all the beauty of this woman 
glowed afresh there to his sight. 

' She was great ; no matter her name, she lives still. She 
was vile ; ay, but not in my sight till too late. Why is it 
that men never love so well as where they love their own 
ruin ? that the heart which is pure never makes ours beat 
upon it with the rapture sin gives ? Through month on 
month my picture grew, and my passion grew with it, fanned 
by her hand. She knew that never would a man paint her 
beauty like one who gave his soul for the price of success. I 
had my paradise ; I was drunk ; and I painted as never the 
colours of mortals painted a woman. I think even she was 
content ; even she, who in her superb arrogance thought she 
was matchless and deathless. Then came my reward ; when 
the picture was done, her fancy had changed 1 A light 
scorn, a careless laugh, a touch of her fan on my cheek ; 
could I not understand ? Was I still such a child ? Must I 
be broken more harshly in to learn to give place ? That was 
all ! And at last her lackey pushed me back with his wand 
from her gates ! What would you ? I had not known what 
a great lady's illicit caprices meant ; I was still but a boy ! 
She had killed me ; she had struck my genius dead ; she had 
made earth my hell — what of that? She had her beauty 
eternal in the picture she needed, and the whole city rang 
with her loveliness as they looked on my work. I have never 
painted again. I came here. What of that ? An artist the 
less then, the world did not care ; r. life the less soon, she will 
not care either ! ' 

Then, as the words ended, a great wave of blood beat back 
his breath and burst from the pent-up torture of his striving 
lungs, and stained red the dark and silken masses of his 
beard. His comrade had seen the hemorrhage many times, 
yet now he knew, as he had never known before, that this 
was death. 

As he held him upward in his arms, and shouted loud for 
help, the great luminous eyes of the French soldier looked up 



THE LITTLE LEOPARD OF FRANCE 359 

at him through their mist with the deep, fond gratitude that 
beams in the eyes of a dog as it drops down to die, knowing 
one touch and one voice to the last. 

^You do not forsake,' he murmured brokenly, while his 
voice ebbed faintly away as the stream of his life flowed faster 
and faster out. * It is over now — so best 1 If only I could 
ha\'e seen France once more. France ' 

He stretched his arms outward as he spoke with the vain 
longing of a hopeless love. Then a deep sigh quivered through 
his lips ; his hand strove to close on the hand of his comrade, 
and his head fell, resting on the flushed blossoms of the rose- 
buds of Provence. 

He was dead. — » 

* « * * « 

An hour later Cecil left the hospital, seeing and hearing 
nothing of the gay riot of the town about him, though the 
folds of many- coloured silk and bunting fluttered across the 
narrow Moorish streets, and the whole of the populace was 
swarming through them with the vivacious enjoyment of 
Paris mingling with the stately picturesque life of Arab habit 
and custom. He was well used to pain of every sort ; his 
bread had long been the bread of bitterness, and the waters of 
his draught been of gall. Yet this stroke, though looked for, 
fell heavily and cut far. ,,„..^^ 

Yonder, in the dead-room, there lay a broken, useless mass } 
of flesh and bone that in the sight of the Bureau Arabe was 
only a worn-out machine that had paid its due toll to the wars 
of the Second Empire, and was now valueless ; only fit to be 
cast in to rot, unmourned, in the devouring African soil. But 
to him that lifeless, useless mass was dear still ; was the 
wreck of the bravest, tenderest, and best-beloved friend that 
he had found in his adversity. 

In Leon Ramon he had found a man whom he had loved, 
and who had loved him. They had suffered much, and much 
endured together; their very dissimilarities had seemed to 
draw them nearer to each other. The gentle impassiveness 
of the Englishman had been like rest to the ardent impe- 
tuosity of the French soldier; the passionate and poetic temper- 
ament of the artist-trooper had revealed to Cecil a thousand 
views of thought and of feeling which had never before then 
dawned on him. And now that the one lay dead, a heavy, 
weary sense of loneliness rested on the other. They died 



36o UNDER TWO FLAGS 

around him every day ; the fearless, fiery blood of Franot 
watered in ceaseless streams the arid, harvestless fields of 
Northern Africa ; death was so common, that the fall of a 
comrade was no more noted by them than the fall of a loose 
stone that their horse's foot shook down a precipice. Yet 
this death was very bitter to him ; he wondered with a dull 
sense of aching impatience why no Bedouin bullet, no Arab 
sabre, had ever found his own life out, and cut his thralls 
asunder. 

The evening had just followed on the glow of the day — 
evening, more lustrous even than ever, for the houses were 
al) a-glitter with endless lines of coloured lamps and strings of 
sparkling illuminations, a very sea of bright-hued fire. The 
noise, the mirth, the sudden swell of music, the pleasure- 
seeking crowds, all that were about him, served only to make 
more desolate and more oppressive by their contrast his 
memories of that life, once gracious, and gifted, and content 
with the dower of its youth, ruined by a woman, and now 
slaughtered here, for no avail and with no honour, by a lance- 
thrust in a midnight skirmish, which had been unrecorded 
even in the few lines of the gazette that chronicled the war 
news of Algeria. 

Passing one of the caf6s, a favourite resort of the officers of 
his own regiment, he saw Cigarette. A sheaf of blue, and 
white, and scarlet lights flashed with tongues of golden flame 
over her head, and a great tricolor flag with the brass eagle 
above it, was hanging in the still, hot air from the balcony 
from which she leaned. Her tunic-skirt was full of bonbons 
and crackers that she was flinging down among the crowd 
while she sang, stopping every now and then to exchange 
some passage of gaulois wit with them that made her hearers 
scream with laughter, while behind her was a tlirong of young 
officers drinking champagne, eating ices, and smoking, echoing 
her songs and her satires with enthusiastic voices and stamps 
of their spurred boot-heels. As he glanced upward, she 
looked literally in a blaze of luminance, and the wild, mellow 
tones of her voice ringing out in the * Rien n*est sacrd pour 
un Sapeur,' sounded like a mockery of that dying-bed beside 
which they had both so late stood together. 

* She has the playfulness of the young leopard, and the 
cruelty, lie tliou^ht, v^nth a sense of disgust, forgetting that 
she did oui kiiuw what he knew, and that if Cigarette had 



THE LITTLE LEOPARD OF FRANCE 361 

;vaited to laugh until death had passed by she would have 
never laughed all her Ufe through in the battalions of Africa. 

She saw him, as he went beneath her balcony ; and she 
sung all the louder, she flung her sweetmeat missiles with 
the reckless force of a Roman Carnivalist, she launched bolta 
of tenfold more audacious raillery at the delighted mob below. 
Cigarette was * bon soldat ; ' when she was wounded, she 
wound her scarf round the nerve that ached, and only laughed 
the gayer. 

And he did her that injustice which the best among us are 
apt to do to those whom we do not feel interest enough in to 
study with that closeness which can alone give comprehension 
of the intricate and complex rebus, so faintly sketched, so 
marvellously involved, of human nature. 

He thought her a little leopard, in her vivacious play and 
her inborn blood-thirstiness. 

Well, the little leopard of France played recklessly enough 
that evening. Algiers was enfite, and Cigarette was spark- 
hng over the whole of the town like a humming-bird or a 
fire-fly — here and there, and everywhere, in a thousand places 
at once, as it seemed ; staying long with none, making music 
and mirth with all. Waltzing hke a thing possessed, pelting 
her lovers with a tempest storm of dragees, standing on the 
head of a gigantic Spahi en tableau amid a shower of fire- 
works, improvising slang songs worthy of Jean Vad6 and his 
Poissardes, and chorused by a hundred lusty lungs that yelled 
the burden in riotous glee as furiously as they were accus- 
tomed to shout * En avant I ' in assault and in charge, 
Cigarette made amends to herself at night for her vain self- 
sacrifice of the fete-day. 

She had her wound ; yes, it throbbed still now and then, 
and stung like a bee in the warm core of a rose. But she was 
young, she was gay, she was a little philosopher, above all 
she was French, and in the real French blood happiness runs 
so richly that it will hardly be utterly chilled until the veins 
freeze in the coldness of death. She enjoyed — enjoyed all 
the more fiercely, perhaps, because a certain desperate bitter- 
ness mingled with the abandonment of her Queen Mab-like 
revelries. Until now Cigarette had been as absolutely heed- 
less and without a care as any young bird taking its first 
summer circles downward through the intoxication of the 
sunny air. It was not without fiery resistance and scornful 



36a UNDER TWO FLAGS 

revolt that the madcap Figlia del Reggimento would be pi*e- 
vailed on to admit that any shadow could have power to rest 
on her. 

She played through more than half the night, the agile 
bounding graceful play of the young leopard to which he had 
likened her, and with a quick punishment from her velvet- 
sheathed talona if any durst offend her. Then when the 
dawn was nigh, leopard-like, the Little One sought her 
den. 

She was most commonly under canvas ; but when she was 
in the town it was at one with the proud independence of her 
nature that she rejected all offers made her, and would have 
her own nook to live in, even though she were not there one 
hour out of the twenty-four. 

' Le Chateau de Cigarette ' was a standing jest of the 
Army ; for none was ever allowed to follow her thither, or 
10 behold the interior of her fortress, and one over- venturous 
Spahi scaling the ramparts had been rewarded with so hot a 
deluge of lentil soup from a boiling casserole poured on his 
head from above, that he had beaten a hasty and ignominious 
retreat, which was more than a whole tribe of the most war- 
like of his countrymen could ever have made him do. 

* Le Chateau de Cigarette ' was neither more nor less than 
a couple of garrets, high in the air, in an old Moorish house, 
in an old Moorish court, decayed, silent, poverty- struck, with 
the wild pumpkin thrusting its leaves through the broken 
fretwork, and the green lizard shooting over the broad pave- 
ments, once brilliant in mosaic, that the robes of the princes 
of Islam had swept, now carpeted deep with the dry v* hite 
drifted dust, and only crossed by the tottering feet of aged 
Jews or the laden steps of Algerine women. 

Up a long winding rickety stair Cigarette approached her 
castle, which was very near the sky indeed. * I like the 
blue,' said the chatelaine laconically, 'and the pigeons fly 
close by my window.' And through it, too, she might have 
added, for though no human thing might invade her chateau, 
the pigeons circling in the sunrise light always knew well 
there were rice and crumbs spread for them in that eyelet- 
hole of a casement. 

Cigarette threaded her agile way up the dark ladder-like 
shaft, and opened her door. There was a dim oil wick burn- 
ing ; the garret was large, and as clean as a palace could be, 



THE LITTLE LEOPARD OF FRANCE 363 

Us occupants were various, and all sound asleep except one, 
who, rough, and hard, and small, and three-legged, limped up 
to her and rubbed a little bullet head against her lovingly. 

* Bouffarick — p'tit Bouffarick ! ' returned Cigarette, caress- 
ingly, in a whisper, and Bouffarick, content, limped back to 
a nest of hay, being a little wiry dog that had lost a leg in 
one of the most famous battles of Gran, and lain in its dead 
master's breast through three days and nights on the field. 
Cigarette, shading the lamp with one hand, glanced round on 
her family. 

They had all histories — histories in the French Army, 
which was the only history she considered of any import to 
the universe. There was a raven perched high, by name 
Vole-qui-Veut ; he was a noted character among the Zouaves, 
and had made many a campaign riding on his owner's bayonet ; 
he loved a combat, and was specially famed for screaming 
' Tue I tue I tue T all over a battle-field ; he was very grey 
now, and the Zouave's bones had long bleached on the edge 
of the desert. 

There was a tame rat who was a vieille moustache, and who 
had lived many years in a Lignard's pocket, and munched 
waifs and strays of the military rations, until the enormous 
crime being discovered that it was taught to sit up and dress 
its whiskers to the heinous air of the Marseillaise, the Lignard 
got the matraque, and the rat was condemned to be killed, 
had not Cigarette dashed in to the rescue and carried the long- 
tailed revolutionist off in safety. 

There was a big white cat curled in a ball, who had been 
the darhng of a Tringlo, and had travelled all over North 
Africa on the top of his mule's back, seven seasons through ; 
in the eighth the Tringlo was picked off by a flying shot, and 
an Indigene was about to skin the shrieking Boule Blanche 
for the soup-pot, when a bullet broke his wrist, making him 
drop the cat with a yell of pain, and the Friend of the Flag, 
catching it up, laughed in his face, ' A lead comfit instead of 
slaughter soup, my friend ! ' 

There was little Bouffarick and three other brother-dogs of 
equal celebrity, one, in especial, who had been brought from 
Cifalons, in defiance of the regulations, inside the drum of his 
regiment, and had been wounded a dozen times, always seek- 
ing the hottest heat of the skirmish. And there was, besides 
khese, sleeping serenely on a straw palliasse, a very old man 



3^4 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

with a snowy beard, and a head fit for G6r6mG to give to an 
Abraham. 

A very old man — one who had been a conscript in the 
bands of Young France, and marched from his Pyren6an 
village to the battle tramp of the Marseillaise, and charged 
with the Enfans de Paris across the plains of Gemappes ; who 
had known the passage of the Alps, and lifted the long curls 
from the dead brow of D^saix at Marengo, and seen in the 
sultry noonday dust of a glorious summer the Guard march 
into Paris, while the people laughed and wept with joy, 
surging like the mighty sea around one pale frail form, so 
young by years, so absolute by genius. 

A very old man ; long broken with poverty, with pain, 
with bereavement, with extreme old age ; and, by a long 
course of cruel accidents, alone, here in Africa, without one 
left of the friends of his youth, or of the children of his name, 
and deprived even of the charities due from his country to his 
services — alone save for the little Friend of the Flag, who, for 
four years, had kept him on the proceeds of her wine trade, 
in this Moorish attic, tending him herself when in town, 
taking heed that he should want for nothing when she was 
campaigning. 

* I wiJl have a care of him,' she had said, curtly, when she 
had found him in great misery and learned his history from 
others ; and she had had the care accordingly, maintaining 
him at her own cost in the Moorish building, and paying a 
good Jewess of the quarter to tend him when she was not 
herself in Algiers. 

The old man was almost dead, mentally, though in bodily 
strength still well able to know the physical comforts of food, 
and rest, and attendance ; he was in his second childhood, in 
his ninetieth year, and was unconscious of the debt he owed 
her ; even, with a curious caprice of decrepitude, he disliked 
her, and noticed nothing except the raven when it shrieked its 
' T^le I tue I tice I ' But to Cigarette he was as sacred as a 
god ; had he not fought beneath the glance, and gazed upon 
the face, of the First Consul ? 

She bent over him now, saw that he slept, busied herself 
noiselessly in brewing a little tin pot full of coffee and hot 
milk, set it over the lamp to keep it warm, and placed it 
beside him ready for his morning meal, with a roll of white 
wheat bread ; then, with a glance round to see that her other 



♦MILADI AUX BEAUX YEUX BLEUS' 365 

dependants wanted for nothing, went to her own garret ad- 
joinmg, and with the lattice fastened back, that the first rays 
of sunrise and the first white flash of her friends the pigeons' 
gleaming wings might awaken her, threw herself on her straw 
and slept with all the graceful careless rest of the childhood 
which though in one sense she had never known, yet in another 
had never forsaken her. 

She hid, as her lawless courage would not have stooped to 
hide a sin, had she chosen to commit one, this compassion 
which she, the young condottiera of Algeria, showed with 
so tender a charity to the soldier of Bonaparte. To him, 
moreover, her fiery imperious voice was gentle as the dove, 
her wayward dominant will was pliant as the reed, her con- 
temptuous sceptic spirit was reverent as a child's before an 
altar. In her sight the survivor of the Army of Italy was 
sacred ; sacred the eyes which, when full of light, had seen 
the sun glitter on the breastplates of the Hussars of Murat, 
the Dragoons of Kellerman, the Cuirassiers of Milhaud : 
sacred the hands which, when nervous with youth, had borne 
the standard of the Kepublic victorious against the gathered 
Teuton host in the ThermopylaB of Champagne ; sacred the 
ears which, when quick to hear, had heard the thunder of 
Areola, of Lodi, of Eivoli, and, above even the tempest of 
war, the clear, still voice of Napoleon ; sacred the Ups which, 
when their beard was dark in the fulness of manhood, had 
quivered, as with a woman's weeping, at the farewell, in the 
spring night, in the moonlit Cour des Adieux. 

Cigarette had a religion of her own ; and followed it more 
closely than most disciples follow other creeds. 



CHAPTER XXIV 

' MILADI AUX BEAUX YEUX BLEUS * 

Early that morning, when the snowy cloud of pigeons were 
circling down to take their daily alms from Cigarette, where 
her bright brown face looked out from the lattice-hole, Cecil 
with some of the rough-riders of his regiment was sent far 



366 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

into the interior to bring in a string of colts, bought of a 
friendly desert tribe, and destined to be shipped to France for 
the Imperial Haras. The mission took two days ; early on 
the third day they returned with the string of wild young 
horses, whom it had taken not a little exertion and address to 
conduct successfully through the country into Algiers. 

He was usually kepi in incessant activity, because those 
in command over him had quickly discovered the immeasurable 
value of a bas-officier who was certain to enforce and obtain 
implicit obedience, and certain to execute any command given 
him with perfect address and surety, yet who, at the same 
time, was adored by his men, and had acquired a most singu- 
larly advantageous influence over them. But of this he was 
always glad : throughout his twelve years' service under the 
Emperor's flag, he had only found those moments in which 
he was unemployed intolerable ; he would wilUngly have been 
in the saddle from dawn till midnight. 

Chateauroy was himself present when the colts were taken 
into the stable-yard ; and himself inquired, without the medium 
of any third person, the whole details of the sale and of the 
transit. It was impossible, with all his incUnation, to find 
any fault either with the execution of the errand or with the 
brief respectful answers by which his corporal replied to his 
rapid and imperious cross-questionings. There were a great 
number of men within hearing, many of them the most daring 
and rebellious pratiques of the regiment ; and Cecil would have 
let the coarsest upbraidings scourge him rather than put the 
temptation to mutiny in their way which one insubordinate or 
even not strictly deferential word from him would have given. 
Hence the inspection passed off peaceably ; as the Marquis 
turned on his heel, however, he paused a moment. 

' Victor ! ' 

' Mon Commandant ? ' 

' I have not forgotten your insolence with those ivory toys. 
But Madame la Princesse herself has deigned to solicit that it 
shall be passed over unpunished. She cannot, of course, yield 
to your impertinent request to remain also unpaid for them. 
I charged myself with the fulfilment of her wishes. You 
deserve the matraque^ but since Miladi herself is lenient enough 
to pardon you, you are to take this instead. Hold your hand, 
6irl' 

Cecil put out his hand; he expected to receive a heavy blow 



«MILAD1 AUX BEAUX YEUX BLEUS ' 367 

from his commander's sabre, that possibly might break the / 
wrist. These Uttle trifles were common in Africa. -^ 

Instead a rouleau of napoleons was laid on his open palm. 
Chateauroy knew the gold would sting more than the blow. 

For the moment Cecil had but one impulse — to dash the pieces 
in the giver's face. In time to restrain the impulse, he 
caught sight of the wild eager hatred gleaming in the eyes of 
Rake, of Petit Picpon, of a score of others who loved him and 
cursed their Colonel, and would at one signal from him have 
sheathed their swords in the mighty frame of the Marquis, 
though they should have been fired down the next moment 
themselves for the murder. The warning of Cigarette came 
to his memory : his hand clasped on the gold ; he gave the 
salute calmly as Chateauroy swung himself away. 

The troops looked at him with longing, questioning eyes ; 
they knew enough of him by now to know the bitterness such 
gold, so given, had for him. Any other, even a corporal, 
would have been challenged with a storm of raillery, a volley 
of congratulation, and would have had shouted or hissed after 
him opprobrious accusations of ^ faisant Suisse ' if he had not 
forthwith treated his comrades royally from such largesse. 
With Bel-^-faire-peur they held their peace, they kept the 
silence which they saw that he wished to keep, as, his hour 
of liberty being come, he went slowly out of the great court 
with the handful of napoleons thrust in the folds of his sash. 

Rather unconsciously than by premeditation, his steps 
turned through the streets that led to his old familiar haunt, 
the As de Pique, and, dropping down on a bench under the 
awning, he asked for a draught of water. It was brought 
him at once, the hostess, a quick brown little woman from 
Paris, whom the lovers^f Eugene^ufi called Rigolette, adding 
of her own accord a lump of ice^ and a slice or two of lemon, 
for which she vivaciously refused payment, though generosity 
was by no means her cardinal virtue. 

*Bel-^-faire-peur ' awakened general interest through 
Algiers ; he brought so fiery and so daring a reputation with 
him from the wars and raids of the interior, yet he was so 
calm, so grave, so gentle, so listless ; it was known that he 
had made himself the terror of Kabyle and Bedouin, yet here 
in the city he thanked the negro boy who took him a glass of 
lemonade at an estaminet, and sharply rebuked one of his 
men for knocking down an old colon with a burden of gourds 



1 



W 'ii m m 



368 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

and of melons; such a Boumi as this the good people of 
the Franco-African capital held as a perfect gift of the gods, 
and not understanding one whit, nevertheless fully appre- 
ciated. 

He did not look at the newspapers she offered him ; but sat 
gazing out from the tawny awning, like the sail of a Nea- 
politan felucca, down the chequered shadows and the many- 
coloured masses of the little, crooked, rambling, semi-barbaric 
alley. He was thinking of the napoleons in his sash and of 
the promise he had pledged to Cigarette. That he would 
keep it he was resolved. The few impressive vivid words of 
the young vivandiere had painted before him hke a picture 
the horrors of mutiny and its Lopelessness ; rather than that, 
through him, these should befall the men who had become 
his brethren-in-arms, he felt ready to let the Black Hawk do 
his worst on his own life. Yet a weariness, a bitterness, he 
had never known in the excitement of active service came on 
him, brought by this sting of insult brought from the fair 
hand of an aristocrate. 

There was absolutely no hope possible in his future. The 
uttermost that could ever come to him would be a grade 
something higher in the army that now enrolled him ; the 
gift of the cross, or a post in the bureau. Algerine warfare 
was not like the campaigns of the armies of Italy or the 
Rhine, and there was no Napoleon here to discern with un- 
erring omniscience a leader's genius under the kepi of a com- 
mon trooper. Though he should show the qualities of a 
Mass^na or a Either, the chances were a million to one that 
he would never get even so much as a lieutenancy ; and the 
raids on the decimated tribes, the obscure skirmishes of the 
interior, though terrible in slaughter and venturesome enough, 
were not the fields on which great military successes were 
won and great military honours acquired. The French fought 
for a barren strip of brown plateau that, gained, would be of 
little use or profit to them ; he thought that he did much the 
same, that his future was much like those arid sand-plains, 
those thirsty verdureless stretches of burnt earth — very little 
worth the reaching. 

The heavy folds of a Bedouin's haick, brushing the papers 
off the bench, broke the thread of his musings. As he stooped 
for them, he saw that one was an English journal some weeks 
old. His own name caught his eye — the name buried 90 



*MILADI AUX BEAUX YEUX BLEUS' 369 

utterly, whose utterance in the Sheik's tent had struck him 
like a dagger's thrust. The flickering Ught and darkness, as 
the awning waved to and fro, made the hues move dizzily 
upward and downward as he read — read the short paragraph 
touching the fortunes of the race that had disowned him : 

* The Rotallieu Succession. — We regret to learn that the 
Right Hon. Viscount Royallieu, who so lately succeeded to 
the family title on his father's death, has expired at Men tone, 
whither his health had induced him to go some months 
previous. The late Lord was unmarried. His next brother 
was, it will be remembered, many years ago, killed on a 
southern railway. The title, therefore, now falls to the i 
third and only remaining son, the Hon. Ber^aley Cecil, who, } 
having lately inherited considerable properties from a distant j 
Relative, will, we believe, revive all the old glories of this 
Peerage, which have, from a variety of causes, lost somewhat 
of their ancient brilliancy.* 

Cecil sat quite still, as he had sat looking down on the 
record of his father's death, when Cigarette had rallied him 
with her gay challenge among the Moresco ruins. His face 
flushed hotly under the warm golden hue of the desert bronze, 
then lost all its colour as suddenly, till it was as pale as any 
of the ivory he carved. The letters of the paper reeled and 
wavered, and grew misty before his eyes ; he lost all sense of 
the noisy changing polyglot crowd thronging past him ; he, a 
common soldier in the Algerian Cavalry, knew that, by every 
law of birthright, he was now a Peer of England. 

His first thought was for the dead man. True, there had 
been Httle amity, little intimacy, between them ; a negligent 
friendliness whenever they had met had been all that they 
had ever reached. But in their childhood they had been 
carelessly kind to one another, and the memory of the boy 
who had once played beside him down the old galleries 
and under the old forests, of the man who had now died 
yonder where the southern sea-board lay across the warm 
blue Mediterranean, was alone on him for the moment. His 
thoughts had gone back, with a pang, almost ere he had read 
the opening lines, to autumn mornings in his youngest years, 
when the leaves had been flushed with their earliest red, and 
the brown still pools had been alive with water-birds, -ind 

B B 



370 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

the dogs had dropped down charging among the flags and 
rushes, and his brother's boyish face had laughed on him 
from the wilderness of willows, and his brother's boyish hands 
had taught him to handle his first cartridge, and to fire hia 
first shot. The many years of indifference and estrangement 
were forgotten, the few years of childhood's confidence and 
comradeship alone remembered, as he saw the words that 
brought him in his exile the story of his brethren's fate and 
of his race's fortunes. His head sank, his face was still 
colourless, he sat motionless with the printed sheet in his hand. 
Once his eyes flashed, his breath came fast and uneven ; he 
rose with a sudden impulse, with a proud bold instinct of birth 
and freedom. Let him stand here in what grade he would, 
with the badge of a Corporal of the Army of Africa on his 
arm, this inheritance that had come to him was his ; he bore 
the name and the title of his house as surely as any had ever 
borne it since the first of the Norman owners of Royallieu 
had followed the Bastard's banner. 

The vagabond throngs, Moorish, Frank, Negro, Colan, 
paused as they pushed their way over the uneven road, and 
stared at him vacantly where he stood. There was something 
in his attitude, in his look, which swept over them, seeing 
none of them, in the eager lifting of his head, in the excited 
fire in his eyes, that arrested all, from the dullest muleteer 
plodding on with his string of patient beasts, to the most 
volatile French girl laughing on her way with a group of 
fantassins. He did not note them, hear them, think of them ; 
the whole of the Algerine scene had faded out as if it had no 
place before him ; he had forgot that he was a cavalry soldier 
of the Empire ; he saw nothing but the green wealth of the 
old home woods far away in England ; he remembered 
nothing save that he, and he alone, was the rightful Lord of 
Royallieu. 

* TienSi est-tu fouy mon brave ? Bois de m'avome,^ Bel-d 
faire-peur t ' 

The coarse good-humoured challenge, as the hand of a 
broad-chested, black-visaged veteran of Chasseurs fell on his 
shoulder, and the wooden rim of a little wine-cup was thrust 
toward him with the proffered drink, startled him and recalled 
him to the consciousness of where he was. He stared one 

' Brandy. 



*MILADI AUX BEAUX YEUX BLEUS' 371 

moment absently in the trooper's amazed face, and then shook 
him off with a suddenness that tossed back the cup to the 
ground, and, holding the journal clinched close in his hand, 
went swiftly through the masses of the people out and away, 
he little noted where, till he had forced his road beyond the 
gates, beyond the town, beyond all reach of its dust and its 
babble and its discord, and was alone in the farther outskirts, 
where to the north the calm sunht bay slept peacefully with 
a few scattered ships riding at anchor, and southward the 
luxuriance of the Sahel stretched to meet the wide and cheer- 
less plateaux, dotted with the conical houses of hair, and 
desolate as though the locust-swarm had just alighted there 
to lay them waste. 

Reaching the heights, he stood still involuntarily, and looked ^ 
down once more on the words that told him of his birthright ; ^yf^ 
in the blinding intense light of the African day they seemed, ^"v>' 
to stand out as though carved in stone, and as he read them^ -^ 
once more a great darkness passed over his face ; — this heri- \ 
tage was bis, and he could never take it up ; this thing had 
come to him, and he must never claim it. He was Viscount 
Royallieu as surely as any of his fathers had been so before 
him, and he was dead for ever in the world's belief ; he must 
live, and grow old, and perish by shot or steel, by sickness or 
by age, with his name and his rights buried, and his years / 
passed as a private soldier of France. ■■—' 

The momentary glow which had come to him with the 
sudden resurrection of hope and of pride faded utterly as he 
slowly read and re-read the lines of the journal on the broken 
terraces of the hill-side, where the great fig-trees spread their 
fantastic shadows, and through a rocky channel a russet stream 
of shallow waters threaded its downward path under the reeds, 
and no living thing was near him save some quiet browsing 
herds far off, and their Arab shepherd-lad that an artist might 
have sketched as Ishmael. What his future might have been 
rose before his thoughts ; what it must be rose also, bitterly, 
blackly, drearily, in contrast. A noble without even a name ; 
a chief of his race without even the power to claim kinship 
with that race ; owner by law of three thousand broad English 
acres, yet an exile without freedom to set foot on his native 
land ; by heritage one among the aristocracy of England, by 
circumstances, now and for ever, till an Arah bullet should 
out in twain his ihread of life, a soldier of the Afrioan legions, 

B b2 



$73 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

bound to obey the commonest and coarsest boor that had risen 
to a rank above hhn : this was what he linew himself to be. 
and knew that he must continue to be without one appeal 
against it, without once stretching out his hand towards his 
right of birth and station. 

There was a passionate revolt, a bitter heart- sickness on 
him ; all the old freedom and peace and luxury and pleasure 
of the life he had left so long allured him with a terrible 
temptation ; the honours of the rank that he should now have 
filled were not what he remembered ; what he longed for with 
an agonised desire was to stand once more stainless among his 
equals, to reach once more the liberty of unchallenged unfet- 
tered life, to return once more to those who held him but as a 
dishonoured memory, as one whom violent death had well 
snatched from the shame of a criminal career. 

* But who would bilieve me now ? ' he thought. * Be- 
sides, this makes no difference. If three words spoken would 
reinstate me, I could not speak them at that cost. The be- 
ginning perhaps was folly, but for sheer justice sake there is 
no drawing back now. Let him enjoy it ; God knows I do 
not grude him it.' 

Yet though it was true to the very core that no envy and 
no evil lay in his heart against the younger brother to whose 
lot had fallen all good gifts of men and fate, there was almost 
unbearable anguish on him in this hour in which he learned 
the inheritance that had come to him, and remembered that 
he could never take again even so much of it as lay in the 
name of his fathers. When he had given his memory up to 
slander and oblivion, and the shadow of a great shame, when 
he had let his life die out from the world that had known him, 
and buried it beneath the rough, weather-stained, blood-soaked 
cloth of a private soldier's uniform, ho had not counted the 
cost then, nor foreseen the cost hereafter. It had fallen on 
him very heavily now. 

Where he stood under some sheltered cc'umns of a long- 
ruined mosque whose shafts were bound together by a thou- 
sand withes and wreaths of the rich fantastic Sahel foliage, an 
exceeding weariness of longing was upon him — longing for all 
that he had forfeited, for all that was his own, yet never could 
be claimed as his. 

The day was intensely still : there was not a sound except 
when here and there the movement of a lizard under the dry 



*MILADI AUX BEAUX YEUX BLEUS'* 373 

grasses gave a low crackling rustle. He_ wondered almost ^ ^ 
which was the dream and which the truth ; thai oldT^Iife' that 
he had once led and that looked now so far away and so 
unreal, or this which had been about him for so many years 
in the camps and the bivouacs, the barracks and the battle- 
fields. He won dered almost which he himself was — an Eng- 
lish peerl)h wBom the fitleof his line had fallen, or a Corporal 
of Chasseurs who must take his chief's insults as patiently as 
a cur takes the blows of its master ; that he was both seemed yi< 
to him, as he stood there with the glisten of the sea before and 
the sweUing slopes of the hillside above, a vague distorted, 
nightmare. =J 

Hours might have passed, or only moments, he could not 
have told ; his eyes looked blankly out at the sun -glow, his 
hand instinctively clinched on the journal whose stray lines 
had told him in an Algerine trattoria that he had inherited 
what he never could enjoy. 

* Are they content, I wonder ? ' he thought, gazing down 
that fiery blaze of shadowless light ; * do they ever re- 
member ? * 

He thought of those for whose sakes he had become what 
he was. 

The distant mellow ringing notes of a trumpet-call floated 
to his ear from the town at his feet ; it was sounding the 
^ rentrie en caserne* Old instinct, long habit, made him 
start and shake his harness together and Usten. The trumpet- 
blast winding cheerily from afar o£f recalled him to the truth : 
summoned him sharply back from vain regrets to the facts of 
daily life. It woke him as it wakes a sleeping charger ; it 
roused him as it rouses a wounded trooper. 

He stood hearkening to the familiar music till it had died 
away, spirited, yet still lingering; full of fire, yet fading 
softly down the wind. He listened till the last echo ceased ; 
then he tore the paper that he held in strips, and let it float 
avvay, drifting down the yellow current of the reedy river- 
channel ; and he half drew from its scabbard the sabre whose 
blade had been notched and dinted and stained in many mid- 
night skirmishes and many headlong charges under the desert 
suns, and looked at it as though a friend's eye gazed at him in 
the gleam of the trusty steel. And his soldier-like philosophy, 
his campaigner's carelessness, his habitual easy negligence 
that had sometimes been weak as water and sometimes heroic 



374 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

as martrydom, came back to him with a deeper shadow on it, 
that was grave, with a calm, resolute, silent courage. 

* So best after all, perhaps,' he said half aloud in the soli- 
tude of the ruined and abandoned mosque. * He cannot well 
come to shipwreck with such a fair wind and such a smooth 
sea. And I — I am just as well here. To ride with the 
Chasseurs is more exciting than to ride with the Pytchley ; 
and the rules of the Chambr^e are scarce more tedious than 
the rules of a Court. Nature turned me out for a soldier, 
though Fashion spoiled me for one. I can make a good cam- 
paigner — I should never make anything else.' 

And he let his sword drop back again into the scabbard, and 
quarrelled no more with fate. 

His hand touched the thirty gold pieces in his sash. 

He started, as the recollection of the forgotten insult came 
back on him. He stood awhile in thought ; then he took hia 
resolve. 

A half -hour of quick movement, for he had become used to 
the heat as an Arab, and heeded it as little, brought him before 
the entrance gates of the Villa Aioussa. A native of Soudan, 
in a rich dress, who had the office of porter, asked him politely 
his errand. Every indigene learns by hard experience to be 
courteous to a French soldier. Cecil simply asked, in answer, 
if Madame la Princesse were visible. The negro returnedf 
cautiously, that she was at home, but doubted her being ac- 
cessible. * You come from M. le Marquis ? ' he inquired. 

* No ; on my own errand.' 

' You I ' Not all the native African awe of a Boumi could 
restrain the contemptuous amaze in the word. 

* I. Ask if Corporal Victor, of the Chasseurs, can be per- 
mitted a moment's interview with your mistress. I come by 
permission,' he added, as the native hesitated between his 
fear of a Roumi and his sense of the appalling unfittingness 
of a private soldier seeking audience of a Spanish princess. 
The message was passed about between several of the house- 
hold ; at last a servant of higher authority appeared : 

'Madame permitted Corporal Victor to be taken to her 
presence. Would he follow ? ' 

He uncovered his head and entered, passing through several 
passages and chambers, richly hung and furnished ; for the 
villa had been the * campagne ' of an illustrious French per- 
sonage, who had offered it to the Princess Corona when, for 



'MILADI AUX BEAUX YEUX BLEUS ' '"ays 

aome sL'ght delicacy of health, the air of Algeria was advo* 
oated. A singular sensation came on him, half of familiarity, 
half of strangeness, as he advanced along them ; for twelve 
years he had seen nothing but the bare walls of barrack-roomg, 
the goat-skin of douars, and the canvas of his own camp-tent. 
To come once more, after so long an interval, amid the old 
things of luxury and grace that had been so long unseen 
wrought curiously on him. He could not fairly disentangle 
past and present. For the moment, as his feet fell once more 
on soft carpets, and his eyes glanced over gold and silver, 
malachite and bronze, white silk and violet damasks, he almost 
thought the Algerian years were a disordered dream of the night. 

His spur caught in the yielding carpet, and his sabre 
clashed slightly against it ; as the rentrie au caserne had done 
an hour before, the sound recalled the actual present to him. 
He was but a French soldier, who went on sufferance into the 
presence of a great lady. All the rest was dead and buried. 

Some half-dozen apartments, large and small, were crossed ; 
then into that presence he was ushered. The room waa 
deeply shaded, and fragrant with the odours of the innu- 
merable flowers of the Sahel soil ; there was that about it 
which struck on him as some air, long unheard but once 
intimately familiar, on the ear will revive innumerable 
memories ; like the ' vieil air languissant et fun^bre,' for 
which Gerard de Nerval was willing to give * all Rossini and 
Weber.' She was at some distance from him, with the 
trailing draperies of Eastern fabrics falling about her in a 
rich, unbroken, shadowy cloud of melting colour, through 
which, here and there, broke threads of gold ; involuntarily 
he paused on the threshold looking at her. Some faint, far-off 
remembrance stirred in him, but deep down in the closed 
grave of his past ; some vague intangible association of for- 
gotten days, forgotten thoughts, drifted before him as it had 
drifted before him when first in the Chambr^e of his barracks 
he had beheld the Venetia Corona. 

She moved forward as her servant announced him ; she 
saw him pause there like one spellbound, and thought it the 
hesitation of one who felt sensitively his own low grade in 
Hfe. She came towards him with the silent sweeping grace 
that gave her the carriage of an empress ; her voice fell on 
his ear with the accent of a woman immeasurably proud, but 
too proud not to bend softly and graciously to those who 



376 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

were so far beneath her that without such aid from her they 
could never have addressed or have approached her. 

' You have come, I trust, to withdraw your prohibition ? 
Nothing will give me greater pleasure then to bring his 
Majesty's notice to one of the best soldiers his army holds.* 

There was that in the words, gently as they were spoken, 
that recalled him suddenly to himself ; they had that negligent, 
courteous pity she would have shown to some colon begging 
at her gates ! He forgot — forgot utterly — that he was only 
an African trooper. He only remembered that he had once 
been a gentleman, that — if a life of honour and of self -negation 
can make any so — he was one still. He advanced and bowed 
with the old serene elegance that his bow had cnce been famed 
for ; and she, well used to be even overcritical in such trifles, 
thought, * That man has once lived in courts 1 ' 

' Pardon me, madame, I do not come to trespass so far 
upon your benignity,' he answered, as he bent before her. * I 
come to express, rather, my regret that you should have made 
one single error.' 

'Error!' — a haughty surprise glanced from her eyes aa 
they swept over him. Such a word had never been used to 
her in the whole course of her brilliant and pampered life of 
sovereignty and indulgence. 

* One common enough, madame, in your order. The error 
to suppose that under the rough cloth of a private trooper's 
uniform there cannot possibly be such aristocratic monopolies 
as nerves to wound.* 

* I do not comprehend you.* She spoke very coldly ; she 
repented her profoundly of her concession in admitting a 
Chasseur d'Afrique to her presence. 

' Possibly not. Mine was the folly to dream that you 
would ever do so. I should not have intruded on you now, 
but for this reason : the humiliation you were pleased to pass 
on me I could neither refuse nor resent to the dealer of it. 
Had I done so, men who are only too loyal to me would have 
resented with me, and been thrashed or been shot, as payment. 
I was compelled to accept it, and to wait until I could return 
your gift to you. I have no right to complain that you pained 
me with it, since one who occupies my position ought, I 
presume, to consider remembrance, even by an outrage, an 
honour done to him by the Princess Corona.' 

As he said the last words he laid on a table that stood near 



•MILADI AUX BEAUX YEUX BLEUS' 377 

him the gold of Chateauroy's insult. She had listened with 
a bewildered wonder, held in check by the haughtier impulse 
of offence, that a man in this grade could venture thus to 
address, thus to arraign her. His words were totally incom- 
prehensible to her, though, by the grave rebuke of his manner, 
she saw that they were fully meant, and, as he considered, 
fully authorised by some wrong done to him. As he laid the 
gold pieces down upon her table, an idea of the truth came to 
her. 

' I know nothing of what you complain of \ I sent you no 
money. What is it you would imply ? * she asked him, look- 
ing up from where she leaned back in the low couch into whose 
depth she had sunk as he had spoken. 

* You did not send me these ? Not as payment for the 
chess service ? * 

* Assuredly not. After what you said the other day, I should 
have scarcely been so ill-bred and so heedless of inflicting 
pain. Who used my name thus ? ' 

His face lightened with a pleasure and a relief that changed 
it wonderfully ; thr^.t brighter look of gladness had been a 
stranger to it for so many years. 

*You give me infinite happiness, madame. You little 
dream how bitter such slights are where one has lost the 
power to resent them 1 It was M. de Chateauroy, who this 
morning ' 

' Dared to tell you I sent you those coins ? ' 

The serenity of a courtly woman of the world was unbroken, 
but her blue and brilliant eyes darkened and gleamed beneath 
the sweep of their lashes. 

* Perhaps I can scarcely say so much. He gave them, and 
he implied that he gave them from you. The words he spoke 
were these.* 

He told her them as they had been uttered, adding no 
more ; she saw the construction they had been intended to 
bear, and that which they had borne naturally to his ear ; she 
listened earnestly to the end. Then she turned to him with 
the exquisite softness of grace which, when she was moved to 
it, contrasted so vividly with the haughty and almost chill 
languor of her habitual manner. 

* Believe me, I regret deeply that you should have been 
wounded by this most coarse indignity; I grieve sincerely 
that through myself in any way it should have been brought 



378 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

upon you. As for the perpetrator of it, jM. de OhAteauroy 
will be received here no more ; and it shall be my care that 
he learns not only how I resent his unpardonable use of my 
name, but how I esteem his cruel outrage to a defender of hig 
own Flag. You did exceedingly well and wisely to acquaint 
me ; in your treatment of it as an affront that I was without 
warrant to offer you, you showed the just indignation of 
a soldier, and — of what I am very sure that you are — a 
gentleman.* 

He bowed low before her. 

' Madame, you have made me the debtor of my enemy's 
outrage. Those words from you are more than sufficient 
compensation for it.' 

* A poor one, I fear 1 Your Colonel is your enemy, then ? 
And wherefore ? ' 

He paused a moment : 

* Why at first I scarcely know. We are antagonistic, I 
suppose.' 

* But is it usual for officers of his high grade to show such 
malice to their soldiers ? ' 

' Most unusual. In this service especially so ; although 
officers rising from the ranks themselves are more apt to con- 
tract prejudices and ill-feeling against, as they are to feel 
favouritism to, their men, than where they enter the regiment 
in a superior grade at once. At least, that is the opinion I 
myself have formed, studying the working of the different 
systems.' 

* You know the English service, then ? ' 

* I know something of it.' 

' And still, though thinking this, you prefer the French ? ' 
' I distinctly prefer it, as one that knows how to make fine 
soldiers, and how to reward them ; as one in which a brave 
man will be valued, and a worn-out veteran will not be left to 
die like a horse at a knacker's.* 

* A brave man valued, and yet you are a corporal ? ' thought 
Miladi, as he pursued : 

* Since lam here, madame, let me thank you, in the Army's 
name, for your infinite goodness in acting so munificently on 
my slight hint. Your generosity has made many happy 
hearts in the hospital.' 

' Generosity I Oh, do not call it by any such name ! What 
did it cost me ? We are terribly selfish here. I am indebted 



»MILADI AUX BEAUX YEUX BLEUS' 379 

to you that for once you made me remember those who 
suffered.' 

She spoke with a certain impulse of candour and of self- 
accusation that broke with great sweetness the somewhat 
careless coldness of her general manner ; it was like a gleam 
of light that showed all the depth and the warmth that in 
truth lay beneath that imperious languor of habit. It broke 
further the ice of distance that severed the grande dame from 
the cavalry soldier. 

Insensibly to himself, the knowledge that he had, in fact, 
the right to stand before her as an equal gave him the bearing 
of one who exercised that right, and her rapid perception had 
felt before now that this Boumi of Africa was as true a gentle- 
man as any that had ever thronged about her in palaces. 
Her own Ufe had been an uninterrupted course of luxury, 
prosperity, serenity, and power : the adversity which she 
could not but perceive had weighed on his had a strange 
interest to her. She had heard of many calamities, and aided 
many ; but they had always been far sundered from her, they 
had never touched her : in this man's presence they seemed 
to grow very close, terribly real. She led him on to speak of 
his comrades, of his daily life, of his harassing routine of 
duties in peace, and of his various experiences in war. He 
told her, too, of L^on Ramon's history ; and, as she listened, 
he saw a mist arise and dim the brilliancy of those eyes that 
men complained would never soften. The very fidelity with 
which he sketched to her the bitter sufferings and the rough 
nobility that were momentarily borne and seen in that great 
military family of which he had become a son by adoption, 
interested her by its very unlikeness to anything in her own 
world. 

His voice had still its old sweetness, his manner still its 
old grace ; and added to these were a grave earnestness and a 
natural eloquence that the darkness of his own fortunes and 
the sympathies with others that pain had awakened had 
brought to him. He wholly forgot their respective station ; 
he only remembered that for the first time for so many years 
he had the charm of converse with a woman of high breeding, 
of inexpressible beauty, and of keen and delicate intuition. 
He wholly forgot how time passed, and she did not seek to 
remind him ; indeed, she but little noted it herself. 

At last the conversation turned back to his Chief. 



380 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

* You seem to be aware of some motive for your comman- 
dant's dislike?' she asked him. 'Tell me to what you 
attribute it ? * 

* It is a long tale, madame.* 

' No matter, I would hear it,* 

* I fear it would only weary you ? ' 
' Do not fear that. Tell it me ! ' 

He obeyed, and told to her the story of the Emir and of 
the Pearl of the Desert ; and Venetia Corona listened, as she 
had listened to him throughout, with an interest that she 
rarely vouchsafed to the recitals and the witticisms of her 
own circle. He gave to the narrative a soldierly simplicity, 
and a picturesque colouring that lent a new interest to her ; and 
she was of that nature which, however it may be led to 
conceal feeling from pride and from hatred, never fails to 
awaken to indignant sympathy at wrong. 

' This barbarian is your chief ? * she said, as the tale 
closed. * His enmity is your honour 1 I can well credit that 
he will never pardon your having stood between him and his 
crime.' 

* He has never pardoned it yet, of a surety.' 

' I will not tell you it was a noble action,' she said, with a 
smile sweet as the morning, a smile that few saw light on 
them. * It came too naturally to a man of honour for you to 
care for the epithet. Yet it was a great one, a most generous 
one. But I have not heard one thing ; — what argument did 
you use to obtain her release ? ' 

'No one has ever heard it,* he answered her, while his 
voice sank low. * I will trust you with it ; it will not pass 
elsewhere. I told him enough of — of my own past life to 
show him that I knew what his had been, and that I knew, 
moreover, though they were dead to me now, men in that 
greater world of Europe who would believe my statement if 
I wrote them this outrage on the Emir, and would avenge it 
for the reputation of the Empire. And unless he released the 
Emir's wife, I swore to him that I would so write, though he 
had me shot on the morrow ; and he knew I should keep my 
word.' 

She was silent some moments, looking on him with a 
musing gaze, in which some pity and more honour for him 
were blended. 

' You told him your past. Will you confess it to me ? ' 



•MILADI AUX BEAUX YEUX BLEUS ' 381 

*I cannot, madame.* 

* And why ? ' 

* Because I am dead I Because, in your presence, it 
becomes more bitter to me to remember that I ever lived.' 

' You speak strangely. Cannot your life have a resur- 
rection ? ' 

* Never, madame. For a brief hour you have given it one 
— in dreams. It will have no other. 

* But surely there may be ways — such a story as you have 
told me brought to the Emperor's knowledge, you would see 
your enemy disgraced, yourself honoured ? ' 

* Possibly, madame. But it is out of the question that it 
should ever be so brought. As I am now, so I desire to live 
and die.* 

' You voluntarily condemn yourself to this ? * 

* I have voluntarily chosen it. I am well sure that the 
silence I entreat will be kept by you ? ' 

* Assuredly ; unless by your wish it be broken. Yet — I 
await my brother's arrival here; he is a soldier himself, I 
shall hope that he will persuade you to think differently of 
your future. At any rate, both his and my own influence will 
always be exerted for you, if you will avail yourself of it.' 

* You do me much honour, madame. AH I will ever ask 
of you is to return those coins to my Colonel, and to forget 
that your gentleness has made me forget, for one merciful half- 
hour, the sufferance on which alone a trooper can present 
himself here.' 

He swept the ground with his k6pi as though it were the 
plumed hat of a Marshal, and backed slowly from her presence, 
as he had many a time long before backed out of a throne- 
room. 

As he went, his eyes caught the armies of the ivory chess- 
men ; they stood under glass, and had not been broken by her 
lapdog. 

Miladi, left alone there in her luxurious morning-room, sat 
awhile lost in thought. He attracted her ; he interested her ; 
he aroused her sympathy and her wonder as the men of her 
own world had failed to do — aroused them despite the pride 
which made her impatient of lending so much attention to a 
mere Chasseur d'Afrique. His knowledge of the fact that he 
was in reaUty the representative of his race, although the 
power to declare himself so had been for ever abandoned and 



383 UNDER TWO FLAGS ^ 

lost, had given him in her presence that day a certain melan- 
choly, and a certain grave dignity that would have shown a 1 
far more superficial observer than she was that he had come 
of a great race, and had memories that were of a very different \ 
hue to the coarse and hard life which he led now. She had 
seen much of the world, and was naturally far more penetra- 
tive and more correct in judgment than are most women. ^ 
She discovered the ring of true gold in his words, and the 
carriage of pure breeding in his actions. He interested her ; 
— more than it pleased her that he should. A man so utterly 
beneath her ! — doubtless brought into the grade to which he 
had fallen by every kind of error, of improvidence, of folly, 
of probably worse than folly I | 

It was too absurd that she, so difficult to interest, so in- 
accessible, so fastidious, so satiated with all that was brilliant 
and celebrated, should find herself seriously spending her 
thoughts, her pity, and her speculation on an adventurer of 
the African Army ! She laughed a little at herself as she 
stretched out her hand for a new volume of French poems 
dedicated to her by their accomplished writer, who was a 
Parisian diplomatist. 

'One would imagine I was just out of a convent, and 
weaving a marvellous romance from a mystery and a tristesse, 
because the first soldier I notice in Algeria has a gentleman's 
voice, and is ill-treated by his officers ! ' she thought with a 
smile, while she opened the poems which had that day arrived, 
radiant in the creamy vellum, the white velvet, and the gold 
of a dedication copy, with the coronet of the Corona d' Amagiie 
on their binding. The poems were sparkling with all the 
grace of airy vers de socUU and elegant silvery harmonies; but 
they served ill to chain her attention, for while she read her 
eyes wandered at intervals to the chess battalions. 

* Such a man as that buried in the ranks of this brutalised 
army 1 ' she mused. * What fatal chance could bring him 
here? Misfortune, not misconduct, surely. I wonder if 
Lyon could learn ? He shall try.' 

* Your Chasseur has the air of a Prince, my love,' said a 
Yoice behind her. 

* Equivocal compliment I A much better air than most 
Princes,' said Madame Corona, glancing up with a slight 
shrug of her shoulders, as her guest and travelling companion, 
the Marquis« de R^nardi^re, entered. 

I 



•MILADI AUX BEAUX YEUX BLEUS 383 



( 



Indeed ! I saw him as he passed out ; and he salated me 
as if he had been a Marshal. Why did he come ? ' 

Venetia Corona pointed to the napoleons, and told the story ; 
rather listlessly and briefly. 

' Ah I The man has been a gentleman, I dare say. So 
many of them come to our army. I remember General Ville- 
fleur's telling me — he commanded here awhile— that the ranks 
of the Zephyrs and Zouaves were full of well-born men, utterly 
good for nothing, the handsomest scoundrels possible, who had 
every gift and every grace, and yet come to no better end than 
a pistol-shot in a ditch or a mortal thrust from Bedouin steel. 
I dare say your Corporal is one of them.* 

' It may be so.* 

' But you doubt it, I imagine.' 

* I am not sure now that I do. But this person is certainly 
unUke a man to whom disgrace has ever attached.* 

'You think your proteg^, then, has become what he is 
through adversity, I suppose ? Very interesting 1 ' 

' I really can tell you nothing of his antecedents. Through 
his skill at sculpture, and my notice of it, considerable indig- 
nity has been brought upon him ; and a soldier can feel, it 
seems, though it is very absurd that he should I That is all 
my concern with the matter, except that I have to teach his 
commander not to play with my name in his barrack- 
yard.' 

She spoke with that negligence which always sounded very 
cold, though the words were so gently spoken. Her best and 
most familiar friends always knew when, with that courtly 
chillness, she had signed them their line of demarcation. 

And the Marquise de Renardidre said no more, but talked 
of the Ambassador's poems. 



384 UNDER TWO FLAGS 



CHAPTER XXV 

'LE BON ZIG' 

Meanwhile the subject of their first discourse returned to the 
Chambr^e. 

He had encouraged the men to pursue those various indus- 
tries and ingenuities, which, though they are affectedly con- 
sidered against * discipline,' formed, as he knew well, the 
best preservative from real insubordination, and the best in- 
strument in humanising and ameliorating the condition of his 
comrades. The habit of application alone was something 
gained ; and if it kept them only for awhile from the haunts 
of those coarsest debaucheries, which are the only possible 
form in which the soldier can pursue the forbidden licence of 
vice, it was better than that leisure should be spent in that 
joyless bestiality which made Cecil, once used to every re- 
finement of luxury and indulgence, sicken with a pitying 
wonder for those who found in it the only shape they knew 
of * pleasure.' 

He had seen from the first, in many men of his tribu, capa- 
bilities that might be turned to endless uses ; in the conscript 
drawn from the populace of the provinces there was almost 
/jilways a knowledge of self-help, and often of some trade, 
coupled with habits of diligence ; in the soldier made from 
the street- Arab of Paris there was always mconceivable intel- 
ligence, rapidity of wit, and plastic vivacity ; in the adven- 
turers come, like himself, from higher grades of society, and 
burying a broken career under the shelter of the tricolor, there 
were continually gifts and acquirements, and even genius, 
that had run to seed and brought forth no fruit. Of all these 
France always avails herself in a great degree ; but, as far as 
Cecil's influence extended, they were developed much more 
than usual. As his own character gradually changed under 
the force of fate, the desire for some interest in life grew on 
, him (every man, save one absolutely brainless and self -engrossed, 
\J^ feels this sooner or later) ; and that interest he found, or rather 
created, in his regiment. All that he could do to contribute 



•LE BON ZIG' j8s 

to its efficiency in the field he did ; all that he could do to 
further its internal excellence he did likewise. 

Coarseness perceptibly abated, and violence became much 
rarer in that portion of his corps with which he had imme- 
diately to do ; the men gradually acquired from him a better, 
a higher tone ; they learned to do duties inglorious and dis- 
tasteful as well as they did those which led them to the danger 
and the excitation that they loved ; and, having their good 
faith and sympathy, heart and soul, with him, he met, in 
these lawless leopards of African France, with loyalty, courage, 
generosity, and self-abnegation far surpassing those which he 
had ever met with in the pohshed civilisation of his early 
experience. 

For their sakes, he spent many of his free hours in the 
Chambr^e. Many a man, seeing him there, came and worked 
at some ingenious design, instead of going off to burn his 
brains out with brandy, if he had sous enough to buy any, or 
to do some dexterous bit of thieving on a native, if he had not. 
Many a time knowing him to be there sufficed to restrain the 
talk around from lewdness and from ribaldry, and turn it into 
channels at once less loathsome and more mirthful, because 
they felt that obscenity and vulgarity were alike jarring on his 
ear, although he had never more than tacitly shown that they 
were so. A precisian would have been covered with their 
contumely and ridicule ; a saint would have been driven out 
from their midst with every missile merciless tongues and 
merciless hands could pelt with ; a martinet would have been 
cursed aloud, and cheated, flouted, rebelled against, on every 
possible occasion. But the man who was ' one of them 
entirely, while yet simply and thoroughly a gentleman, had 
great influence — an influence exclusively for good. 

The Chambree was empty when he returned ; the men were 
scattered over the town in one of their scant pauses of liberty ; 
there was only the dog of the regiment, Flick -Flack, a snow- 
white poodle, asleep in the heat, on a sack, who, without 
waking, moved his tail in a sign of gratification as Cecil 
stroked him, and sat down near, betaking himself to the work 
he had in hand. 

It was a stone for the grave of L6on Ramon. There was 
no other to remember the dead Chasseur ; no other beside 
himself, save an old woman sitting spinning at her wheel 
under the low-sloping shingle roof of a cottage by the western 

oc 



386 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

Biscayan sea, wlio, as she spun, and as the thread flew, looked 
with anxious aged eyes over the purple waves where she had 
seen his father — the son of her youth — go down beneath the 
waters, and murmured ever and again, * II r'viendra I il 
r'viendra I ' 

But the thread of her flax would be spun out, and the 
thread of her waning life be broken, ere ever the soldier for 
whom she watched would go back to her and to Languedoc. 

For life is brutal ; and to none so brutal as to the aged who 
remember so well, and yet are forgotten as though already 
they were amid the dead. 

Cecil's hand pressed the graver along the letters, but his 
thoughts wandered far from the place where he was. Alone 
there, in the great sun-scorched barrack-room, the news that 
he had read, the presence he had quitted, seemed alike a dream. 

He had never known fully all that he had lost until he had 
«tood before the beauty of this woman, in whose deep imperial 
eyes the light of other years seemed to lie, the memories of 
other worlds seemed to slumber. 

These blue, proud, fathomless eyes I Why had they looked 
on him ? He had grown content with his fate ; he had been 
satisfied to live and to fall a soldier of France ; he had set a 
seal on that far-off life of his earUer time, and had grown to 
forget that it had ever been. Why had chance flung him in 
her way, that with one careless haughty glance, one smile of 
courteous pity, she should have undone in a moment all the 
work of a half- score years, and shattered in a day the serenity 
which it had cost him such weary self-contest, such hard- 
iought victory, to attain ? 

She had come to pain, to weaken, to disturb, to influence 
him, to shadow his peace, to wring his pride, to unman his 
resolve, as women do mostly with men. Was Ufe not hard 
enough here already, that she must make it more bitter yet 
to bear ? 

He had been content, with a soldier's contentment, in danger 
and in duty ; and she must waken the old coiled serpent of 
restless stinging regret which he had thought lulled to rest 
for ever ! 

* If I had my heritage ? ' he thought ; and the chisel fell 
from his hands as he looked down the length of the barrack- 
room with the blue glare of the African sky through the 
casement. 



*LE BON ZIG' 387 

Then he smiled at his owu folly, in dreaming idly thus of 
things that might have been. 

' I will see her no more,' he said to himself. ' If I do 
not take care, I shall end by thinking myself a martyr — the 
last refuge and consolation of emasculate vanity, of impotent 
egotism ! ' 

For though his whole existence was a sacrifice, it never 
occurred to him that there was anything whatever great in 
its acceptation, or unjust in its endurance. He thought too 
little of his life's value, or of its deserts, ever to consider by 
any chance that it had been harshly dealt with, or unmeritedly 
visited. 

At that instant Petit Picpon's keen, pale, Parisian face 
peered through the door, his great black eyes, that at times 
had so pathetic a melancholy, and at others such a monkeyish 
mirth and malice, were sparkling excitedly and gleefully. 

' Mon Caporal ! ' 

' You, Picpon ? What is it ? ' 

' Mon Caporal, there is great news. La danse commence 
U-bas.' ^ 

* Ah I Are you sure ? ' 

' Sure, mon Caporal. The Arbicos want a fantasia d la 
clarinette.^ We are not to know just yet : we are to have 
the ordre de route to-morrow. I overheard our officers say so. 
They think we shall have brisk work. And for that they will 
not punish the vieille lame.' 

* Punish 1 Is there fresh disobedience ? In my squadron ; 
in my absence ? ' 

He rose instinctively, buckling on the sword which he had 
put aside. 

*Not in your tribu, moTi Caporal,' said Picpon quickly. 
* It is not much, either. Only the bon-zig Rac' 

* Rake ? What has he been doing ? ' 

There was infinite anxiety and vexation in his voice. Rake 
had recently been changed into another squadron of the regi- 
ment, to his great loss and regret ; for not only did he miss 
the man's bright face and familiar voice from the Chambree, 
but he had much disquietude on the score of his safety, for 
Rake was an incorrigible pratique, had only been kept from 

* There is fighting broken out yonder. 

* A skirmish to the miv^ic of musketry. 

cc 2 



388 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

scrapes and mischief by Cecil's influence, and even despite 
that had been often in hot water, and once even had been 
drafted for a year or so of chastisement among the ' Zephyrs,' 
a mode of punishment which, but for its separation of him 
from his idol, would have given unmitigated dehght to the 
audacious offender. 

' Very little, mon Caporal I ' said Picpon, eagerly. ' A 
mere nothing— a bagatelle ! Run a Spahi through the 
stomach, that is all. I don't think the man is so much as 
dead, even ! ' 

' I hope not, indeed. When will you cease this brawling 
among yourselves ? A soldier's blade should never be turned 
upon men of his ow^n army. How did it happen ? ' 

* Poicr si peu de chose, mon Caporal. A woman I They 
quarrelled about a little fruitseller. The homard ^ was in 
fault. Grache-au-nez-d'la-Mort was there before him ; and was 
preferred by the girl ; and women should be allowed some- 
thing to do with choosing their lovers, that I think, though it 
is true they often take the worst man. They quarrelled ; the 
homard drew first ; and then, pouf et passe ! quick as thought, 
Rac lunged through him. He has always a most beautiful 
stroke. Le Capitaine Argentier was passing, and made a 
fuss; else nothing would have been done. They have put 
him under arrest, but I heard them say they would let him 
free to-night because we should march at dawn.' 

*I will go and see him at once.' 

* Wait, 711071 Caporal ; I have something to tell you,' said 
Picpon quickly. * The zig has a motive in what he does. 
Rac wanted to get the trou.^ He has done more than one bit 
of mischief only for that.' 

* Only for what ? He cannot be in love with the trotc ? ' 

* It serves his turn,' said Picpon, mysteriously. 'Did you 
never guess why, mon Caporal ? Well, I have. Crache-au- 
nez-d'la-Mort is a risquetout.^ The officers know it; the 
bureaus know it. He would have mounted, mounted, mounted, 
and been a Captain long before now, if he had not been a 
pratique.' 

* I know that ; so would many of you.* 

' Ah, mon Caporal ; but that is just what Rac does not 
choose. In the books his page beats every man's, except 

' Spahj. * Prison. 

' A fine fearlesM soldier. 



•LE BON ZIG' 389 

yours. They have talked of him many times for the cross 
and for promotion ; but whenever they do — cri-crac I he goes 
off to a bit of mischief, and gets himself punished. Any 
rahiat,^ long or short, serves his purpose. They think him 
too wild to take out of the ranks. You remember, mon Ca- 
poral, that splendid thing that he did five years ago at Saba- 
sasta ? Well, you know they spoke of promoting him for it, 
and he would have run up all the grades Uke a squirrel, and 
died a Kdbir,'^ I dare say. What did he do to prevent it ? 
Why, went that escapade into Oran disguised as a Dervish, 
and got the trou instead.' 

* To prevent it ? Not purposely ? * 

* Purposely, mon Caporal,' said Petit Picpon, with a sapient 
nod that spoke volumes. ' He always does something when 
he thinks promotion is coming — something to get himself out 
of its way, do you see ? And the reason is this : 'tis a good 
zig, and loves you, and will not be put over your head. " Me 
rise afore him ? " said the zig to me once. " I'll have the As 
de Piqvs ^ on my collar fifty times over first ! He's a Prince, 
and I'm a mongrel got in a gutter ! I owe him more'n I'll 
ever pay, and I'U kill the K6bir himself afore I'll insult him 
that way." So say little to him about the Spahi, mon Gaporal, 
He loves you well, does your Rac' 

' Well, indeed ! Good God I What nobility I ' 
Picpon glanced at him ; then, with the tact of his nation, 
glided away and busied himself teaching Flick- Flack to 
shoulder and present arms, the weapon being a long chi- 
bouque-stick. 

* After all, Diderot was in the right when he told Rousseau ^ 
which side of the question to take,' mused Cecil as he crossed^ 
the barrack-yard a few minutes later to visit the incarcerated— t 
'pratique, * On my life, .cjviljsatiQB.,jdevelops comfort, but I / 
do believe it kills nobility. Individuality dies in it, and ego- 
tism grows strong and specious. Why is it that in a polished 
life a man, while becoming incapable of sinking to crime, 
almost always becomes also incapable of rising to greatness ? 
Why is it that misery, tumult, privation, bloodshed, famine 
beget, in such a life as this, such countless things of heroism, 
of endurance, of self-sacrifice — things worthy of demigods — 

* Term of punishment. ' General. 

* A little mark in black cloth that distinguishes the battalion of the 
' Incorrigiblea.' 



390 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

1 in men who quarrel with the wolves for a wild-boar'a carcass, 
Ijpr a sheep's oifal ? ' 

^^ A question which perplexes, very wearily, thinkers who 
have more time, more subtlety, and more logic to bring to 
its unravelment than Bertie had either leisure or inclination 
to do. 

* Is this true. Rake — that you intentionally commit these 
freaks of misconduct to escape promotion ? ' he asked of the 
man when he stood alone with him in his place of confine- 
ment. 

Rake flushed a little. 

' Mischief's bred in me, sir ; it must come out. It's just 
bottled up in me like ale : if I didn't take the cork out now 
and then, I should fly apieces I * 

' But many a time when you have been close on the reward 
of your splendid gallantry in the field, you have frustrated 
your own fortunes and the wishes of your superiors by wan- 
tonly proving yourself unfit for the higher grade they were 
going to raise you to ; why do you do that ? ' 

Rake fidgeted restlessly, and, to avoid the awkwardness of 
the question, replied, like a Parliamentary orator, by a flow of 
rhetoric. 

' Sir, there's a many chaps like me. They can't help 
nohow bustin' out when the fit takes 'em. 'Tain't reasonable 
to blame 'em for it ; they're just made so, like a chestnut's 
made to bust its pod, and a chicken to bust its shell. Well, 
you see, sir, France she know that, and she say to herself, 
*' Here are these madcaps, if I keep 'em tight in hand I shan't 
do nothin' with 'em — they'll turn obstreperous and cram my 
convict-cells. Now I want soldiers, I don't want convicts. 
I can't let 'em stay in the Regulars, 'cause they'll be for 
making all the army wildfire like 'era ; I'll just draft 'em by 
theirselves, treat 'em different, and let 'em fire away. They've 
got good stuff in 'em, thoiigh too much of the curb riles 'em." 
Well, sir, she do that ; and aren't the Zephyrs as fine a lot of 
fellows as any in the service ? Of course they are ; but if 

they'd been in England — God bless her, the dear old d d 

obstinate soul I — they'd have been druv' crazy along o' pipe- 
clay and razors ; she'd never have seed what was in 'em, her 
eyes are so bunged up with routine. If a pup riot in the 
pack, she's no notion but to double-thong him, and a'oourse, 
in double-quick time, she finds herself obliged to go further, 



*LE BON ZIG' 391 

and hang him. She don't ever remember that it may be only 
just along of his breedin', and that he may make a very good 
hound elseways let out a bit, though he'll spile the whole pack 
if she ivill be a fool and try to make a steady line-hunter oi 
him straight agin his nature.' 

Rake stopped breathless in his rhetoric, which contained 
more truth in it, as also more roughness, than most rhetoric 
does. 

* You are right. But you wander from my question,' said 
Cecil gently. " Do you avoid promotion ? " ' 

* Yes, sir, I do,' said Rake, something sulkily ; for he felt 
he was being driven * up a corner.' ^1 do. I ain't not one 
bit fitter for an officer than that rioting pup I talk on is fit to 
lead them crack packs at home. I should be in a strait-waist- 
coat if I was promoted ; and as for the cross — Lord, sir, that 
would get me into a world 0* trouble I I should pawn it for 
a toss of wine the first day out, or give it to the first mou- 
kiera that winked her black eye for it ! The star put on 
my buttons suits me a deal better ; if you'll believe me, sir, 
it do.' » 

Cecil's eyes rested on him with a look that said far more 
than his answer. 

' Rake, I know you better than you would let me do, if 
you had your way. My noble fellow! you reject advance- 
ment, and earn yourself an unjust reputation for mutinous 
conduct, because you are too generous to be given a step 
above mine in the regiment.' 

' Who's been a-telling you that trash, sir ? * retorted Rake 
with ferocity. 

* No matter who. It is no trash. It is a splendid loyalty, 
of which I am utterly unworthy, and it shall be my care that 
it is known at the Bureaus, so that henceforth your great 
merits may be ' 

* Stow that, sir ! ' cried Rake vehemently. * Stow that, 
if you please I Promoted I wo7t't be — no, not if the Emperor 
hisself was to order it, and come across here to see it done I 
A pretty thing, surely ! Me a officer, and you never a one — 
me a-commandin* of you, and you a-salutin' of me I By the 
Lord, sir I we might as well see the camp- scullions a-ridin* 
in state, and the Marshal a-scouring out the soup-pots I * 

' The star on the metal buttons of the insubordinates, or Zephyrs. 



392 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

* Not at all. This Army has not a finer soldier than your- 
self ; you have a right to the reward of your services in it. 
And I assure you you do me a great injustice if you think I 
would not as willingly go out under your orders as under 
those of all the Marshals of the Empire.' 

The tears rushed into the hardy eyes of the redoubtable 
* Crache-au-nez-d'la-Mort,* though he dashed them away in 
a fury of eloquence. 

* Sir, if you don't understand as how you've given me a 
power more than all the crosses in the world in saying of 
them there words, why you don't know 7?ze much either, that's 
all. You're a gentleman — a right on rare thing that is — and 
bein* a gentleman, a course you'd be too generous and too 
proud like not to behave well to me, whether I was a-servin* 
you as I've always served you, or a-insultin' of you by ridin* 
over your head in that way as we're speakin' on. But I know 
my place, sir, and I know yours. If it wasn't for that 'ere 
Black Hawk — damn him 1 — I can't help it, sir, I will damn 
him, if he shoot me for it — you'd been a Chef d'Escadron by 
now. There ain't the leastest doubt of it. Ask all the zigs 
what they think. Well, sir, now you know I'm a man what 
do as I say ; if you don't let me have my own way, and if 
you do the littlest thing to get me a step, why, sir, I swear as 
I'm a livin' bein', that I'll draw on Chateauroy the first time 
I see him afterwards, and slit his throat as I'd slit a jackal's 1 
There — my oath's took 1 ' 

And Cecil saw that it would also be kept. The natural 
lawlessness and fiery passion inborn in Eake had of course 
not been cooled by the teachings of African warfare ; and his 
hate was intense against the all-potent Chief of his regiment, 
as intense as the love he bore to the man whom he had 
followed out into exile. 

Cecil tried vainly to argue with him ; all his reasonings fell 
like hailstones on a cuirass, and made no more impression ; 
he was resolute. 

* But listen to one thing,' he urged at last. ' Can you not 
see how you pain me by this self-sacrifice ? If I knew that 
you had attained a higher grade, and wore your epaulettes in 
this service, can you not fancy I should feel pleasure then (as 
I feel regret, even remorse, now) that I brought you to Africa 
through my own follies and misfortunes ? ' 

* Do you, sir ? Their ain't the least cause for it, then,' 



♦LE BON ZIG' 393 

returned Rake, sturdily. * Lor' bless you, sir, why, this life's 
made a-purpose for me 1 If ever a round peg went trim and 
neat into a round hole, it was when I came into this here 
Army. I never was so happy in all my days before. They're 
right on good fellows, and '11 back you to the death if so be aa 
you've allays been share-and-share-alike with 'em, as a zig 
should. As a private, sir, I'm happy and I'm safe ; as a 
officer, I should be kicking over the traces, and blunderin* 
everlastingly. However, there P-in't no need to say a word 
more about it ; I've sworn, and you've heerd me swear, sir, 
and you know as how I shall keep my oath if ever I'm pro- 
voked to it by bein' took notice of. I stuck that homard just 
now just by way of a lark, and only 'cause he come where 
he'd no business to poke his turbaned old pate ; 'tain't likely 
as I shall stop at giving the Hawk two inclies of steel if he 
comes such an insult over us both as to offer a blackguard like 
me the epaulettes as you ought to be a-wearin' I * 

And Cecil knew that it was hopeless either to persuade him 
to his own advantage or to convince him of his . disobedience 
in speaking thus of his supreme, before his non-commissioned, 
officer. He was Mmself, moreover, deeply moved by the 
man's fidelity. 

He stretched his hand out : 

* I wish there were more blackguards with hearts like 
yours. I cannot repay your love. Rake, but I can value it.' 

Rake put his own hands behind his back. 

* God bless you, sir, you've repaid it ten dozen times over. 
But you shan't do that, sir. I told you long ago, I'm too 
much of a scamp ! Some day, p'raps, as I Raid, when I've 
settled scores with myself, and wiped oS all the bad 'una with 
a clear sweep, tolerably clean. Not afore, sir ! ' 

And Rake was too sturdily obstinate not to always carry 
his point. 

The love that he bore to Cecil was very much such a wild, 
chivalric, romantic fidelity as the Cavaliers or the Gentlemen 
of the North bore to their Stuart Idols. That his benefactor 
had become a soldier of Africa in no way lessened the reverent 
love of his loyalty, any more than theirs was lessened by the 
adversities of their royal masters. Like theirs, also, it had 
beauty in its blindness — the beauty that lies in every pure 
unselfishness. 

Meanwhile, Picpon's news waa correct. 



394 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

The regiment was ordered out d la danse.^ There was 
fresh war in the interior ; and wherever there was the hottest 
slaughter, there the Black Hawk always flew down with his 
falcon-flock. When Cecil left his incorrigible zigy the trum- 
pets were sounding an assembly; there were noise, tumult, 
eagerness, excitement, delighted zest on every side ; a general 
order was read to the enraptured squadrons ; they were to 
leave the town at the first streak of dawn. 

There were before them death, deprivation, long days of 
famine, long days of drought and thirst ; parching sun-baked 
roads; bitter chilly nights; fiery furnace- blasts of sirocco; 
killing, pitiless, northern winds ; hunger, only sharpened by 
a snatch of raw meat or a handful of maize ; and the proba- 
bilities, ten to one, of being thrust under the sand to rot, or 
left to have their skeletons picked clean by the vultures. But 
what of that ? There were also the wild delight of combat, 
the freedom of lawless warfare, the joy of deep strokes thrust 
home, the chance of plunder, of wine-skins, of cattle, of 
women ; above all, that lust for slaughter which burns so 
deep down in the hidden souls of men, and gives them such 
brotherhood with wolf, and vulture, and tiger, when once its 
flame bursts forth. 

That evening, at the Villa Aioussa there gathered a courtly 
assembly, of much higher rank than Algiers can commonly 
afford, because many of station as lofty as her own had been 
drawn thither to follow her to what the Princess Corona 
called her banishment — an endurable banishment enough 
under those azure skies, in that clear elastic air, and with 
that charming * bonbonni^re ' in which to dwell, yet still a 
banishment to the reigning beauty of Paris, to one who had 
the hahits and the commands of a wholly undisputed sove- 
reignty in the royal splendour of her womanhood. 

There was a variety of distractions to prevent ennui ; there 
were half a dozen clever Paris actors playing the airiest of 
vaudevilles in the Bijou theatre, beyond the drawing-rooms ; 
there were some celebrated Italian singers whom an Imperial 
Prince had brought over in his yacht; there was the best 
music ; there was wit as well as homage whispered in her 
ear. Yet she was not altogether amused ; she was a little 
touched with ennui. 

' Oq the inaroh. 



•LE BON 2IG* 395 

'Those men are very stupid. They have not half the 
talent of that soldier 1 ' she thought once, turning from a 
Peer of France, an Austrian Archduke, and a Russian diplo- 
matist. And she smiled a little, furling her fan and musing 
on the horror that the triad of fashionable conquerors near 
her would feel if they knew that she thought them duller 
than an African lascar 1 

But they only told her things of which she had been long 
weary, specially of her own beauty ; he had told her of things 
totally unknown to her, things real, terrible, vivid, strong, 
sorrowful — strong as life, sorrowful as death. 

* Chateauroy and his Chasseurs have an ordre de route,' a 
voice was saying, that moment, behind her chair. 

* Indeed ? ' said another. * The Black Hawk is never so 
happy as when unhooded. When do they go ? ' 

' To-morrow. At dawn.' 

' There is always fighting here, I suppose ? ' 

' Oh, yes. The losses in men are immense ; only the 
journals would get a communiqu^y or worse, if they ventured 
to say so in France. How delicious La Doche is ! She 
comes in again with the next scene.' 

The Princess Corona listened ; and her attention wandered 
farther from the Archduke, the Peer, and the diplomatist, 
as from the vaudeville. She did not find Mme. Doche very 
charming ; and she was absorbed for a time looking at the 
miniatures on her fan. 

At the same moment, through the lighted streets of Algiers, 
Cigarette, like a union of fairy and of fury, was flying with 
the news. Cigarette had seen the flame of war at its height, 
and had danced in the midst of its whitest heat, as young 
children dance to see the fires leap red in the black winter's 
night. Cigarette loved the battle, the charge, the wild music 
of bugles, the thunder tramp of battalions, the sirocco-sweep 
of light squadrons, the mad tarantala of triumph when the 
slaughter was done, the grand swoop of the Eagles down 
unto the carnage, the wild hurrah of France. 

She loved them with all her heart and soul ; and she flew 
now through the starlit sultry night, crying, * La guerre ! 
La guerre ! La guerre I ' and chanting to the enraptured 
soldiery a Marseillaise of her own improvisation, all slang, 
and doggerel, and baorack- grammar ; but fire-giving as a 



596 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

torch, and rousing as a bugle in the way she sang it, waving 
the tricolor high above her head : 

Fantasia, 

Deo Gratia! 

En avant I 

On t' attend I 

Au cor et a cri 

Suivez, mes Spahis, 
On e'^lance a la danse, 
Pour la gloire de la France, 

Fusillons, 

BataiUons ! 

Et marchons 

Au guidons I 

Va, loustio, 

Et du eric 

Vide ton verre. 

A la guerre 1 
Cast I'Amie du Drapeau 
Qui s'appelle son troupeau f 
Faisons pouff k Ti^mir, 
Faisons style k venir, 
De I'avoine la moisson, 
Portera belle boisson, 
Le Zephyr au douar 
F'ra retentir son cor, 
Chasse-marais cont' fleurettea 
S'emparant des fillettes, 
Et sous I'Aigle mes Roumis, 
Vont gorger les Arbis, 
A la musique si nette 
De la haute clarinette I 

Bazzia, 

Grazia, 

Est iei, 

Mes Spahis, 
X I'amour 1 Aux beaux jours, 
Rataplan des tambours. 
Nous appelle, * R'lin tintin, 
Vite au rire, au butin 1 ' 

Vive la gloire I 

Vive le boire 1 
Vive le vin ros6 du sang I 
Vive le feu volage des rangsl 
Vive tout <?a qui va nous fairc 
Paradis au fond d'enfer, 
Par la Guerre, par la Guerre I 
En avant 1 Allons 1 Buvons « 
En avant I Allons 1 Mourrons ', 



^ 

1 



ZARAILA ' 397 

CHAPTER XXVI 

ZABAILA 

The African day was at its noon. 

From the first break of dav/n the battle had raged ; now, at 
midday, it was at xts height. Far in the interior, almost on 
the edge of the great desert, in that terrible season when air 
that is flame by day is ice by night, and when the scorch of a 
blazing sun may be followed in an hour by the blinding fury 
of a snowstorm, the slaughter had gone on hour through 
hour under a shadowless sky, blue as steel, hard as a sheet of 
brass. . The Arabs had surprised the French encampment ■.. 
where it lay in the centre of an arid plain that was called 
Zaraila. Hovering like a cloud of hawks on the entrance of| 
the Sahara, massed together for one mighty if futile effort, 
with all their ancient war-lust, and with a new despair, the 
tribes who refused the yoke of the alien empire were once 
again in arms, were once again combined in defence of those 
limitless kingdoms of drifting sand, of that beloved belt of 
bare and desolate land so useless to the conqueror, so dear to 
the nomad. When they had been, as it had been thought, 
beaten back into the desert wilderness, when, without water 
and without cattle, it had been calculated that they would, of 
sheer necessity, bow themselves in submission, or perish of 
famine and of thirst, they had recovered their ardour, their 
strength, their resistance, their power to harass without 
ceasing, if they could never arrest, the enemy. They had 
cast the torch of war afresh into the land, and here, south- 
ward, the flame burned bitterly, and with a merciless tongue 
devoured the lives of men, licking them up as a forest fire the i 
dry leaves and the touchwood. *"^ 

Circling, sweeping, silently, swiftly, with that rapid spring, 
that marvellous whirlwind of force, that is of Africa, and of 
Africa alone, the tribes had rushed down in the darkness of 
night, lightly as a kite rushes through the gloom of the dawn. 
For once the vigilance of the invader served him naught ; for 
once the Frankish camp was surprised off its guard. While 
the air was still chilly with the breath of the night, while 



39S UNDER TWO FLAGS 

fche first gleam of morning had barely broken through the 
mists of the east, while the picket-fires burned through the 
dusky gloom, and the sentinels and videttes paced slowly to 
and fro, and circled round, hearing nothing worse than the 
stealthy tread of the jackal, or the muffled flight of a night- 
bird, afar in the south a great dark cloud had risen, darker 
than the brooding shadows of the earth and sky. 

The cloud swept onward, like a mass of cirri, in those 
shadows shrouded. Fleet as though wind-driven, dense as 
though thunder-charged, it moved over the plains. As it 
grew nearer and nearer, it grew greyer, a changing mass of 
white and black that fused, in the obscurity, into a shadow 
colour ; a dense array of men and horses flitting noiselessly 
like spirits, and as though guided alone by one rein and moved 
alone by one breath and one will : not a bit champed, not a 
linen-fold loosened, not a shiver of steel was heard ; as silently 
as the winds of the desert sweep up northward over the 
plains, so they rode now, host upon host of the warriors of 
the soil. 

The outlying videttes, the advanced sentinels, had scruti- 
nised so long through the night every wavering shade of 
cloud and moving form of buffalo in the dim distance, that 
their sleepless eyes, strained and aching, failed to distinguish 
this moving mass that was so like the brown plains and star- 
less sky that it could scarce be told from them. The night, 
too, was bitter ; northern cold cut hardly chillier than this 
that parted the blaze of one hot day from the blaze of another. 
The sea-winds were blowing cruelly keen, and men who at 
noon gladly stripped to their shirts, shivered now where they 
lay under canvas. 

Awake while his comrades slept around him, Cecil was 
stretched half unharnessed. The foraging duty of the past 
twenty-four hours had been work harassing and heavy, in- 
glorious and full of fatigue. The country round was bare as 
a table-rock; the watercourses poor, choked with dust and 
stones, unfed as yet by the rains or snows of the approaching 
winter. The horses suffered sorely, the men scarce less. 
The hay for the former was scant and bad ; the rations for 
the latter often cut off by flying skirmishers of the foe. The 
campaign, so far as it had gone, had been fruitless, yet had 
cost largely in human life. The men died rapidly of dysen- 
tery, disease, and the chills of the nights, and had severe 



ZARAILA 39^ 

losses in countless obscure skirmishes, that served no end 
except to water the African soil with blood. •^ 

True, France would fill the gaps up as fast as they occurred,! 
and the Moniteur would only allude to the present operations 
when it could give a flourishing line descriptive of the Arabs 
being driven back, decimated, to the borders of the Sahara. 
But as the flourish of the Moniteur would never reach a 
thousand little wayside huts, and seaside cabins, and vine- 
dressers' sunny nests, where the memory of some lad who 
had gone forth never to return would leave a deadly shadow 
athwart the humble threshold, so the knowledge that they 
were only so many automata in the hands of Government, 
whose loss v/ould merely be noted that it might be efficiently 
supplied, was not that wine -draught of La Gloire, which 
poured the strength and the daring of gods into the limbs 
of the men of Jena and of Austerlitz. Still, there was the 
war-lust in them, and there was the fire of France ; they 
fought not less superbly here, where to be food for jackal and 
kite was their likeliest doom, than their sires had done under ^ 
the eagles of the First Empire, when the conscript hero ^J 
to-day was the glittering Marshal of to-morrow. 

Cecil had awakened while the camp still slept. Do what 
he would, force himself into the fulness of this fierce and 
hard existence as he might, he could not burn out or banish 
a thing that had many a time haunted him, but never as it 
did now — the remembrance of a woman. He almost laughed \ 
as he lay there on a pile of rotting straw, and wrung the ; 
truth out of kis own heart, that he — a soldier of these exiled 
squadrons — was mad enough to love that woman, whose j 
deep proud eyes had dwelt with such serene pity upon him. j 

Yet his hand clinched on the straw as it had clinched once 
when the operator's knife had cut down through the bones of 
his breast to reach a bullet that, left in his chest, would have 
been death. If in the sight of men he had only stood in the 
rank that was his by birthright, he could have strived for — it 
might be that he could have roused— some answering passion 
in her. But that chance was lost to him for ever. Well, it 
was but one thing more that was added to all that he had of 
his own will given up. He was dead ; he must be content, 
as the dead must be, to leave the warmth of kisses, the glow 
of delight, the possession of a woman's loveliness, the homage 
of men's honour, the gladness of successful desires, to those 



400 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

who still lived in the light he had quitted. He had never 
allowed himself the emasculating indulgence of regret ; he 
flung it off him now. 

Flick-Flack, coiled asleep in his bosom, thrilled, stirred, 
and growled. He rose, and, with the little dog under his 
arm, looked out from the canvas. He knew that the most 
vigilant sentry in the service had not the instinct for a foe 
afar off that Flick-Fiack possessed. He gazed keenly south- 
ward, the poodle growling on ; that cloud so dim, so distant, 
caught his sight. Was it a moving herd, a shifting mist, a 
shadow-play between the night and dawn ? 

For a moment longer he watched it ; then what it was he 
knew, or felt by such strong instinct as makes knowledge ; 
and like the blast of a clarion his alarm rang over the 
unarmed and slumbering camp. 

An instant, and the hive of men, so still, so motionless, 
broke into violent movement ; and from the tents the half- 
clothed sleepers poured, wakened, and fresh in wakening as 
hounds. Perfect discipline did the rest. W^ith marvellous, 
with matchless swiftness and precision, they harnessed and 
got under arms. They were but fifteen hundred or so in all 
— a single squadron of Chasseurs, two battalions of Zouaves, 
half a corps of Tirailleurs, and some Turcos ; only a branch 
of the main body, and without artillery. But they were 
some of the flower of the army of Algiers, and they roused in 
a second, with the vivacious ferocity of the bounding tiger, 
with the glad eager impatience for the slaughter of the 
unloosed hawk. Yet, rapid in its wondrous celerity as their 
united action was, it was not so rapid as the downward 
sweep of that war-cloud that came so near, with the tossing 
of white draperies and the shine of countless sabres, now 
growing clearer and clearer out of the darkness, till, with the 
whir like the noise of an eagle's wings, and a swoop like an 
eagle's seizure, the Arabs whirled down upon them, met a few 
yards in advance by the answering charge of the Light Cavalry. 

There was a crash as if rock were hurled upon rock, as the 
Chasseurs, scarce seated in saddle, rushed forward to save 
the pickets, to encounter the first blind force of the attack, 
and to give the infantry, further in, more time for harnesa 
and defence. Out of the caverns of the night an armed 
multitude seemed to have suddenly poured. A moment ago 
they had slept in security ; now thousands on thousands 



ZARAILA 401 

whom they could not number, whom they could but dimly 
even perceive, were thrown on them in immeasurable hosts, 
which the encircling cloud of dust served but to render 
vaster, ghastlier, and more majestic. The Arab line stretched 
out with wings that seemed to extend on and on without 
end ; the line of the Chasseurs was not one-half its length ; 
they were but a single squadron flung in their stirrups, 
scarcely clothed, knowing only that the foe was upon them, 
caring only that their sword-hands were hard on their 
weapons. With all the dan of France they launched them 
selves forward to break the rush of the desert horses ; they 
met with a terrible sound, like falling trees, like clashing 
metal. 

The hoofs of the rearing chargers struck each other's 
breasts, and these bit and tore at each other's manes, while 
their riders reeled dow^n dead. Frank and Arab were blent in 
one inextricable mass as the charging squadrons encountered. 
The outer wings of the tribes were spared the shock, and 
swept on to meet the bayonets of Zouaves and Turcos as 
at their swift foot-gallop the Enfans Perdus of France threw 
themselves forward from the darkness. The cavalry was en- 
veloped in the overwhelming numbers of the centre ; and the 
flanks seemed to cover the Zouaves and Tirailleurs as some 
great settling mist may cover the cattle who move beneath it. 

It was not a battle ; it was a frightful tangling of men anH^ 
brutes. No contest of modern warfare, such as commences' 
and conquers by a duel of artillery, and, sometimes, gives the^* j,^/ 
victory to whosoever has the superiority of ordnance, but a 
conflict, hand to hand, breast to brea «t, life for life, a Homeric 
combat of spear and of sword even while the first volleys of | 
the answering musketry pealed over the plain. "" ■" 

For once the Desert avenged in Uke that terrible inexhausti- 
bility of supply wherewith the Empire so long had crushed 
them beneath the overwhelming difference of numbers. It 
was the Day of Mazagran onre more, as the light of the 
morning broke, grey, silvered, beautiful, in the far dim dis- 
tance, beyond the tawny seas of reeds. Smoke and sand soon 
densely rose above the struggle, white, hot, blinding ; but out 
from it the lean dark Bedouin faces, the snowy haicks, the 
red burnous, the gleam of the Tunisian muskets, the flash of 
the silver-hilted yataghans, were seen fused in a mass with 
kiie brawny naked necks of the Zouaves, with the shine of the 

D D 



402 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

French bayonets, with the tossmg manes and glowing nostrils 
of the Chasseurs' horses, with the torn, stained silk of the 
raised Tricolor, through which the storm of balls flew thick 
and fast as hail, j^et whose folds were never suffered to fall, 
though again and again the hand that held its staff was cut 
away or was unloosed in death, yet ever found another to take 
its charge before the Flag could once have trembled in the 
enemy's sight. 

The Chasseurs could not charge; they were hemmed in, 
packed between bodies of horsemen that pressed them together 
as between iron plates ; now and then they could cut their 
way through, clear enough to reach their comrades of the 
demie cavalerie, but as often as they did so, so often the over- 
whelming numbers of the Arabs surged in on them afresh like 
a flood, and closed upon them, and drove them back. 

Every soldier in the squadron that lived kept his life by 
sheer, breathless, ceaseless, hand-to-hand sword-play, hewing 
right and left, front and rear, without pause, as in the great 
tangled forests of the west men hew aside branch and brush- 
wood ere they can force one step forward. 

The gleam of the dawn spread in one golden glow of 
morning, and the day rose radiant over the world; they stayed 
not for its beauty or its peace ; the carnage went on hour upon 
hour ; men began to grow drunk with slaughter as with raki. 
It was sublimely grand ; it was hideously hateful — this wild 
beast struggle, this heaving tumult of striving Uves that ever 
and anon stirred the vast war-cloud of smoke and broke from 
it as the lightning from the nigl.it. The sun laughed in its 
warmth over a thousand hills and streams, over the blue seas 
lying northward, and over the yellow sands of the south ; but 
the touch of its lieat only made the flame in their blood burn 
fiercer ; the fulness of its light only served to show them 
clearer where to strike and how to slay. 

It was bitter, stifling, cruel work ; with their mouths choked 
with sand, with their throats caked with thirst, with their 
eyes blind with smoke ; cramped as in a vice, scorched with 
the blaze of powder, covered with blood and with dust ; while 
the steel was thrust through nerve and sinew, or the shot 
ploughed through bone and flesh. The answering fire of the 
Zouaves and Tirailleurs kept the Arabs further at bay, and 
mowed them faster down ; but in the Chasseurs' quarter of 
the field — parted from the rest of their comrades as they had 



ZARAILA 403 

been by the rush of that broken charge with which they had 
sought to save the camp and arrest the foe — the worst pressure 
of the attack was felt, and the fiercest of the slaughter fell. 

The Chef d'Escadron had been shot dead as they had first 
swept out to encounter the advance of the desert horsemen ; 
one by one the officers had been cut down, singled out by the 
keen eyes of their enemies, and throwing themselves into the 
deadUest of the carnage with the impetuous self-devotion 
characteristic of their service. At the last there remained but 
a mere handful out of all the brilliant squadron that had gal- 
loped down in the grey of the dawn to meet the whirlwind of 
Arab fury. At their head was Cecil. 

Two horses had been killed under him, and he had thrown 
himself afresh across unwounded chargers, whose riders had 
fallen in the melee, and at whose bridles he had caught as he 
shook himself free of the dead animals' stirrups. His head 
was uncovered ; his uniform, hurriedly thrown on, had been 
torn aside, and his chest was bare to the red folds of his sash ; 
he was drenched with blood, not his own, that had rained on 
him as he fought ; and his face and his hands were black 
with smoke and with powder. He could not see a yard in 
front of hijn ; he could not tell how the day went anywhere, 
save in that corner where his own troop was hemmed in. As 
fast as they beat the Arabs back, and forced themselves some 
clearer space, so fast the tribes closed in afresh. No orders 
reached him from the General of Brigade in command ; except 
for the well-known war-shouts of the Zouaves that ever and 
again rang above the din, he could not tell whether the 
French battalions were not cut utterly to pieces under the 
immense numerical superiority of their foes. All he could 
see was that every officer of Chasseurs was down, and that 
unless he took the vacant place, and rallied them together, 
the few score troopers that were still left would scatter, con- 
fused and demoralised, as the best soldiers will at times when 
they can see no chief to follow. 

He spurred the horse he had just mounted against the 
dense crowd opposing him, against the hard black wall of 
dust, and smoke, and steel, and savage faces, and lean swarthy 
arms, which were all that his eyes could see, and that seemed 
impenetrable as granite, moving and changing though it was 
He thrust the grey against it, while he waved his sword above 
his head. 

D D 8 



404 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

* En avant, mes frdres t Frmwe I France t France / * 
His voice, well known, well loved, thrilled the hearts of 

bis comrades, and brought them together like a trumpet-call. 
They had gone with him many a time into the hell of battle, 
into the jaws of death. They surged about him now, striking, 
thrusting, forcing, with blows of their sabres or their lances 
and blows of their beasts' fore-feet, a passage one to another, 
until they were reunited once more as one troop, while their 
shrill shouts, Hke an oath of vengeance, echoed after him in 
the butchery, that has pealed victorious over so many fields 
from the soldiery of France. They loved him ; he had called 
them his brethren. They were like lambs for him to lead, 
like tigers for him to incite. 

They could scarcely see his face in that great red mist of 
combat, in that horrible stifling pressure on every side that 
jammed them as if they were in a press of iron, and gave 
them no power to pause, though their animals' hoofs struck 
the lingering life out of some half-dead comrade, or trampled 
over the writhing limbs of the brother-in-arms they loved 
dearest and best. But his voice reached them, clear and 
ringing in its appeal for sake of the country they never once 
forgot or once reviled, though in her name they were starved 
and beaten like rebellious hounds, though in her cause they 
were exiled all their manhood through under the sun of this 
cruel, ravenous, burning Africa. They could see him lift aloft 
the Eagle he had caught from the last hand that had borne 
it, the golden gleam of the young morning flashing like flame 
upon the brazen wings ; and they shouted, as with one throat, 
' Mazagran I Mazagran I ' As the battalion of Mazagran had 
died keeping the ground through the whole of the scorching 
day, while the fresh hordes poured down on them like cease- 
less torrents snow-fed and exhaustless, so they were ready to 
hold the ground here, until of all their number there should 
be left not one living man. 

He glanced back on them, guarding his head the while 
from the lances that were rained on him ; and he lifted the 
Guidon higher and higher, till, out of the ruck and the 
throng, the brazen bird caught afresh the rays of the rising 
sun. 

* Suivez-moi ! ' he shouted. 

Then, like arrows launched at once from a hundred bows, 
they charged, he still slightly in advance of them, the bridle 



ZARAILA 405 

flung upon his horse's neck, his head and breast bare, one 
hand striking aside with his blade the steel shafts as they 
poured on him, the other holding high above the press the 
Eagle of the Bonapaites. 

The effort was superb. 

Dense bodies of Arabs parted them in the front from the 
camp where the battle raged, harassed them in the rear with 
flying shots and hurled lances, and forced down on them on 
either side, like the closing jaws of a trap. The impetuosity 
of their onward movement was, for the moment, u-resistible ; 
it bore headlong all before it ; the desert horses recoiled, and 
the desert riders themselves yielded, crushed, staggered, 
trodden aside, struck aside, by the tremendous impetus with 
which the Chasseurs were thrown upon them. For the 
moment, the Bedouins gave way, shaken and confused, as at 
the head of the French they saw this man, with his hair 
blowing in the wind, and the sun on the fairness of his face, 
ride down on them thus unharmed, though a dozen spears 
were aimed at his naked breast, dealing strokes sure as death 
right and left as he went, with the light from the hot blue 
skies on the ensign of France that he bore. 

They knew him ; they had met him in many conflicts ; and 
wherever the * fair Frank,' as they called him, came, there 
they knew of old the battle was hard to win ; bitter to the 
bitterest end, whether that end were defeat, or victory costly 
as defeat in its achievement. 

And for the moment they recoiled under the shock of that 
fiery onslaught ; for the moment they parted, and wavered 
and oscillated beneath the impetus with which he hurled his 
hundred Chasseurs on them, with that light, swift, inde- 
scribable rapidity and resistlessness of attack characteristic of 
the African Cavalry. 

Though a score or more, one on another, had singled him 
out with special and violent attack, he had gone, as yet, 
un wounded, save for a lance-thrust in his shoulder, of which, 
in the heat of the conflict, he was unconscious. The * fighting 
fury ' was upon him ; and when once this had been ht in 
him, the Arabs knew of old that the fiercest vulture in the 
Frankish ranks never struck so surely home as this hand ^hat 
his comrades called ' mam dejemm e, mais main de Jer.' 

As he spurred his horse ^wn on them nowTtwenty blades 
glittered against him ; the foremost would have cut straight 



4o6 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

down through the bone of his bared chest and killed him at a 
single lunge, but as its steel flashed in the sun, one of his 
troopers threw himself against it, and parried the stroke from 
him by sheathing it in his own breast. The blow was mortal, 
and the one who had saved him reeled down off his saddle 
under the hoofs of the trampling chargers. * Picpon s'en 
souvient,' he murmured with a smile ; and as the charge 
swept onward, Cecil, \^dth a great cry of horror, saw the feet 
of the maddened horses strike to pulp the writhing body, and 
saw the black wistful eyes of the Enfant de Paris look upward 
to him once, with love, and fealty, and unspeakable sweetness 
gleaming through their darkened sight. 

But to pause was impossible. Though the French horses 
were forced with marvellous dexterity through a bristling 
forest of steel, though the remnant of the once- glittering 
squadron was cast against them in as headlong a daring as if 
it had half the regiments of the Empire at its back, the charge 
availed little against the hosts of the desert that had rallied 
and swooped down afresh almost as soon as they had been, for 
the instant of the shock, panic-stricken. The hatred of the 
opposed races was aroused in all its blind ravening passion ; 
the conquered had the conquering nation for once at their 
mercy ; for once at tremendous disadvantage ; on neither side 
was there aught except that one instinct for slaughter, which, 
once awakened, kills every other in the breast in which it 
burns. 

The Arabs had cruel years to avenge — years of a loathed 
tyranny, years of starvation and oppression, years of constant 
flight southward, with no choice but submission or death. 
They had deadly memories to wash out — memories of brethren 
who had been killed like carrion by the invaders' shot and 
steel ; of nomadic freedom begrudged and crushed by civilisa- 
tion ; of young children murdered in the darkness of the 
caverns, with the sulphurous smoke choking the innocent 
throats that had only breathed the golden air of a few 
summers; of women, well beloved, torn from them in the 
hot flames of burning tents and outraged before their eyes 
with insult whose end was a bayonet-thrust into their breasts 
— breasts whose sin was fidelity to the vanquished. 

They had vengeance to do that made every stroke seem 
righteous and holy in their sight ; that nerved each of their 
bare and sinewy arms as with the strength of a thousand 



i 



ZARAILA 407 

limba. Right — so barren, so hopeless, so unavailing — had 
long been with them. Now with it was added at Ust the 
power of might; and they exercised the power with the 
savage ruthlessness of the desert. They closed in on every 
side ; wheeling their swift coursers hither and thither ; striking 
with lance and blade ; hemming in, beyond escape, the doomed 
fragment of the Frankish squadron till there remained of 
them but one small nucleus, driven close together, rather as 
infantry will form than as cavalry usually does — a ring of 
horsemen, of which every one had his face to the foe ; a solid 
circle curiously wedged one against the other, with the bodies 
of chargers and of men deep around them, and with the 
ground soaked with blood till the sand was one red morass. 

Cecil held the Eagle still, and looked round on the few left 
to him. 

* You are sons of the Old Guard : die like them.* 

They answered with a pealing cry, terrible as the cry of 1 
the lion m the hush of night, but a shout that had in it assent, ( 
triumph, fealty, victory, even as they obeyed him and drew \ 
up to die, while in their front was the young brow of Petit 
Picpon turned upward to the glare of the skies. 

There was nothing for them but to draw up thus, and await 
their butchery, defending the Eagle to the last ; looking till 
the last toward that 'woman's face of their leader,' as they 
had often termed it, that was to them now as^ the face of 
Napoleon was to the soldiers who loved him. '~" ~ 

There was a pause, brief as is the pause of the lungs to 
«take a fuller breath. The Arabs honoured these men, who 
alone and in the midst of the hostile force held their ground 
and prepared thus to be slaughtered one by one, till of all the 
squadron that had ridden out in the darkness of the dawn 
there should be only a black, huddled, stiffened heap of dead 
men and of dead beasts. The chief who led them pressed 
them back, withholding them from the end that was so new 
to their hands when they should stretch that single ring of 
horsemen all lifeless in the dust. 

* You are great warriors,' he cried, in the Sabir tongue ; 
* surrender, we will spare 1 ' 

Cecil looked back once more on the fragment of his troop, 
and raised the Eagle higher aloft where the wings should 
glisten in the fuller day. Half naked, scorched, blinded, i 
with an open gash in his shoulder where the lance had struck, I 



4o8 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

and with his brow wet with the great dews of the noon-heat 
and the breathless toil, his eyes were clear as they flashed 
with the light of the sun in them ; his mouth smiled as he 
answered : 

* Have we shown ourselves cowards, that you think we 
shall yield ? ' 

A hourrah of wild delight from the Chasseurs he led greeted 
and ratified the choice : ' On meurt — on 7ie se rend pas ! ' 
they shouted in the words, which, even if they be but 
legendary, are too true to the spirit of the soldiers of France 
not to be as truth in their sight. Then, with their swords 
above their heads, they waited for the collision of the terrible 
attack which would fall on them upon every side, and strike 
all the sentient life out of them before the sun should be one 
point higher in the heavens. It came : with a yell as of wild 
beasts in their famine, the Arabs threw themselves forward, 
the chief himself singling out the * fair Frank ' with the 
violence of a lion flinging himself on a leopard. One instant 
longer, one flash of time, and the tribes pressing on them 
would have massacred them like cattle driven into the pens 
of slaughter. Ere it could be done, a voice like the ring of a 
silver trumpet echoed over the field : 

* En avant ! En avant I Tue, tue, tue I ' 

Above the din, the shouts, the tumult, the echoing of the 
distant musketry, that silvery cadence rung ; down into the 
midst, with the Tricolor waving above her head, the bridle 
of her fiery mare between her teeth, the raven of the dead 
Zouave flying above her head, and her pistol levelled in deadly, 
aim, rode Cigarette. 

The lightning fire of the crossing swords played round her, 
the glitter of the lances dazzled her eyes, the reek of smoke 
and of carnage was round her ; but she dashed down into the 
heart of the conflict as gaily as though she rode at a review, 
laughing, shouting, waving the torn colours that she grasped, 
with her curls blowing back in the breeze, and her bright 
young face set m the warrior's lust. Behind her, but scarcely 
a length, galloped three squadrons of Chasseurs and Spahis ; 
trampling headlong over the corpse-strewn field, and break- 
ing through the masses of the Arabs as though they were seas 
of corn. 

She wheeled her mare round bj Cecil's side at the moment 
when, with six swift passes of his blade he had warded off 



ZARAILA 409 

the Chief's blows and sent his own sword down through the 
chest-bones of the Bedouin's mighty form. 

* Well struck ! The day is turned. Charge 1 ' 

She gave the order as though she were a Marshal of the 
Empire, the suu-blaze full on her where she sat on the rear- 
ing, fretting, half-bred grey, with the Tricolor folds above 
her head, and her teeth tight gripped on the chain-bridle, and 
her face all glowing and warm and full of the fierce fire of 
war — a Httle Amazon in scarlet, and blue, and gold ; a young 
-Jeanne d'Arc, with the crimson fez in lieu of the silvered 
casque, and the gay broideries of her fantastic dress instead 
of the breastplate of steel. And with the Flag of her idolatry, 
the Flng that was as her religion, floating back as she went, 
she spurred her mare straight against the Arabs, straight over 
the lifeless forms of the hundreds slain ; and after her poured 
the fresh squadrons of cavalry, the ruby burnous of the Spahis 
streaming on the wind as their darling led them on to retrieve 
the day for France. 

Not a bullet struck, not a sabre grazed her ; but there, in 
the heat and the press of the worst of the slaughter, Cigarette 
rode hither and thither, to and fro, her voice ringing like a 
bird's song over the field, in command, in applause, in encou- 
ragement, in delight ; bearing her standard aloft and un- 
touched ; dashing heedless through a storm of blows ; cheer- 
ing on her - children * to the charge again and again ; and 
all the while with the sunlight full on her radiant spirited 
head, and with the grim grey raven flying ^bjim her, shriek- 
ing shrilly its ^ Tue, ttie^"^tu'e7' ~ The Army believed with 
superstitious faith in the potent spell of that veteran bird, and 
the story ran that whenever he flew above a combat France 
was victor before the sun set. The echo of the raven's cry, 
and the presence of the child who, they knew, would have a 
thousand musket balls fired in her fair young breast rather 
than live to see them defeated, made the fresh squadrons 
sweep in like a whirlwind, bearing down all before them. 

Cigarette saved the day. 



4IO UNDER TWO FLAGS 

CHAPTER XXVII 

THE LOVE OP THE AMAZON 

Befobb the sun had declined from his zenith the French 
were masters of the field, and pursued the retreat of the 
Arabs till for miles along the plain the line of their flight was 
marked with horses that had dropped dead in the strain, and 
with the motionless forms of their desert riders, their cold 
hands clinched in the loose hot sands, and their stern faces 
turned upward to the cloudless scorch of their native skies, 
under whose freedom they would never again ride forth to 
the joyous clash of the cymbals and the fierce embrace of the 
death-grapple. 

When at length she returned, coming in with her ruthless 
Spahis, whose terrible passions she feared no more than 
Virgil's Volscian huntress feared the beasts of forest and 
plain, the raven still hovered above her exhausted mare, the 
torn flag was still in her left hand ; and the bright laughter, 
the flash of ecstatic triumph, was still in her face as she sang 
the last lines of her own war-chant. The leopard nature was 
roused in her. She was a soldier ; death had been about her 
from her birth ; she neither feared to give nor to receive it ; 
she was proud as ever was young Pompeius flushed with the 
glories of his first eastern conquests ; she was happy as such 
elastic, sunlit, dauntless youth as hers alone can be, return- 
ing in the reddening afterglow at the head of her comrades 
to the camp that she had saved. 

She could be cruel — women are, when roused, as many a 
revolution has shown ; she could be herioc — she would have 
died a hundred deaths for France ; she was vain with a viva- 
cious childlike vanity ; she was brave with a bravery beside 
which many a man's high courage palled. Cruelty, heroism, 
vanity, and bravery were all on fire, and all fed to their utter- 
most, most eager, most ardent flame, now that she came back 
at the head of her Spahis ; while all who remained of tbe 
soldiers who, but for her, would have been massacred long 
ere then, without one spared among them, threw themselves 
forward, crowded round her, caressed, and laughed, and wept, 



THE LOVE OF THE AMAZON 411 

and shouted with all the changes of their intense mercurial I 
temperaments, kissed her boots, her sash, her mare*s drooping ( 
neck, and, lifting her, with wild vivas that rent the sky, on ! 
to the shoulders of the four tallest men among them, bore 
her to the presence of the only officer of high rank who had ; 
survived the terrors of the day, a Chef de Bataillon of the I 
Zouaves. 

And he, a grave and noble-looking veteran, uncovered 
his head and bowed before her as courtiers bow before their 
queens. 

* Mademoiselle, you saved the honour of France. In the 
name of France, I thank you.' 

The tears rushed swift and hot into Cigarette's bright eyes ] 
— tears of joy, tears of pride. She was but a child still in I 
much, and she could be moved by the name of France as other ; 
children by the name of their mothers. / 

* Chut 1 I did nothing,' she said rapidly. * I only rode 
fast/ 

The frenzied hurrahs of the men who heard her drowned | 
her words. They loved her for what she had done ; they ' 
loved her better still because she set no count on it. 

* The Empire will think otherwise,' said the Major of 
the Zouaves. * Tell me, my Little One, how did you do this 
thing ? ' 

Cigarette, balancing herself with a foot on either shoulder 
of her supporters, gave the salute and answered : 

* Simply, mon Commandant — very simply. I was alone, 
riding midway between you and the main army — three 
leagues, say, from each. I was all alone ; only Vole-qui-veut 
flying with me for fun. I met a colon. I knew the man. 
For the matter of that, I did him once a service — saved his 
geese and his fowls from burning, one winter's day, in their 
house, while he rung his hands and looked on. Well, he was 
full of terror, and told me there was fighting yonder — here 
he meant — so I rode nearer to see. That was just upon 
sunrise. I dismounted, and ran up a palm there.' And 
Cigarette pointed to a far-off slope crowned with the remains 
of a once-mighty palm forest. ' I got up very high. I could 
see miles round. I saw how things were with you. For the 
moment I was coming straight to you. Then I thought I 
should do more service if I let the main army know, and 
brought you a reinforcement. I rode fast. Dieu ! I rode 



413 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

fast. My horse dropped under me twice ; but I reached them i 
at last, and I went at once to the General. He guessed at a 
glance how things were, and I told him to give me my Spahis 
and let me go. So he did. I got on a mare of his own staff, 
and away we came. Ma foi ! it was a near thing. If we 
had been a minute later, it had been all up with you.' 

* True, indeed,' muttered the Zouave in his beard. * A . 
superb action, my Little One. But did you meet no Arab 
Bcouts to stop you ? ' 

Cigarette laughed, 

' Did I not ? Met them by dozens. Some had a shot at 
me ; some had a shot from me. One fellow nearly winged 
me ; but I got through them all somehow. Sapristi ! I 
galloped so fast I was very hard to hit flying. Those things 
only require a little judgment ; but some men, pardi I always 
are creeping when they should fly, and always are scampering 
when they should saunter ; and then they wonder when they 
make fiasco ! Bah ! ' 
j j And Cigarette laughed again. Men were such bunglers — 
1 j ouf ! 
' ' Mademoiselle, if all soldiers were like you,* answered the 
Major of Zouaves, curtly, * to command a battalion would be 
paradise ! ' 

* All soldiers would do anything I have done,' retorted 
Cigarette, who never took a compliment at the expense of her 
* children.' ' They do not all get the opportunity, look 
you ; c*est tout ! Opportunity is a little angel ; some catch 
him as he goes, some let him pass by for ever. You must be 
quick with him, for he is like an eel to wriggle away. If 
you want a good soldier, take that aristocrat of the Chasse- 
Marais — that beau Victor. Pouf I all his officers were down ; 
and how splendidly he led the troop ! He was going to die 
with them rather than surrender. Napoleon ' — and Cigarette 
uncovered her curly head reverentially as at the name of a 
deity — ' Napoleon would have given him his brigade ere this. 
If you had seen him kill the chief I ' 

' He will have justice done him, never fear. And for you 
— the Cross shall be on your breast. Cigarette, if I live over 
to-night to write my despatches.' 

And the Chef de Bataillon saluted her once more, and 
turned away to view the carnage-strewn plain, and number 
the few who remained out of those who had been wakened by 



THE LOVE OF THE AMAZON 413 

the clash of the Arab arms in the grey of the earliest 
dawn. 

Cigarette's eyes flashed like sun playing on water, and her 
flushed cheeks grew scarlet. Since her infancy it had been 
her dream to have the CroPS, to have the Grande Croix to lie 
above her little lion's heart : it had been the one longing, the 
one ambition, the one undying desire of her soul ; and lo I she 
touched its realisation ! 

The wild, frantic, tumultuous cheers and caresses of her 
soldiery, who could not triumph in her and triumph with her j 
enough to satiate them, recalled her to the actual moment. ' 
She sprang down from her elevation, and turned on them with 
a rebuke. * Ah ! you are making this fuss about me while 
hundreds of better soldiers than I lie yonder. Let us look to 
them first ; we will play the fool afterwards.' 

And, though she had ridden fifty miles that day, if she 
had ridden one — though she had eaten nothing since sunrise, 
and had only had one draught of bad water — though she was 
tired, and stiff, and bruised, and parched with thirst, 
Cigarette dashed off as lightly as a young goat to look for 
the wounded and the dying men who strewed the plain far 
and near. 

She remembered one whom she had not seen after that first s^ 

moment in which she had given the word to the squadrons to .^>^ 
charge. -, oj^ "^ 

It was a terrible sight — the arid plain, lying in the scarlefH 
glow of sunset, covered with dead bodies, with mutilated 1 
hmbs, with horses gasping and writhing, with men raving I 
hke mad creatures in the torture of their wounds. It was a 
sight which always went to her heart. She was a true 
soldier, and, though she could deal death pitilessly, could, 
when the delirium of war was over, tend and yield infinite 
compassion to those who were in suffering. But such scenes 
had been familiar to her from the earliest years when, on an 
infant's limbs, she had toddled over such battle-fields, and t ^' 
wound tiny hands in the hair of some dead trooper who had 
given her sweetmeats the hour before, vainly trying to 
awaken him. And she went through all the intense misery 
and desolation of the scene now without shrinking, and with 
that fearless tender devotion to the wounded which Cigarette 
showed in common with other soldiers of her nation, being, 
like them, a young lion in the combati but a creature 



414 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

unspeakably gentle and full of sympathy when the fury of 
the fight was over. 

She had seen great slaughter often enough, but even she 
had not seen any struggle more close, more murderous, than 
this had been. The dead lay by hundreds ; French and 
Arab locked in one another's limbs as they had fallen when 
the ordinary mode of warfare had failed to satiate their 
violence, and they had wrestled together like wolves fighting 
and rending each other over a disputed carcass. The bitter- 
ness and the hatred of the contest were shown in the fact thaf 
there were very few merely wounded or disabled ; almost all 
of the numbers that strewed the plain were dead. It had 
been a battle-royal, and, but for her arrival with the fresh 
squadrons, not one among her countrymen would have lived 
to tell the story of this terrible duello which had been as 
magnificent in heroism as any Austerlitz or Gemappes, but 
which would pass unhonoured, almost unnamed, among the 
futile fruitless heroisms of Algerian warfare. 

* Is he killed ? Is he killed ? ' she thought, as she bent 
over each knot of motionless bodies where here and there 
some faint stifled breath or some moan of agony told that life 
still lingered beneath the huddled stifiening heap. And a 
tightness came at her heart, an aching fear made her shrink, 
as she raised each hidden face that she had never known 
before. * What if he be ? ' she said fiercely to herself. * It 
is nothing to me. I hate him, the cold aristocrat. I ought 
to be glad if I see him lie here.' 

But, despite her hatred for him, she could not banish that 
hot feverish hope, that cold suffocating fear, which, turn by 
turn, quickened and slackened the bright flow of her warm 
young blood as she searched among the slain. 

* Ah ! le pauvre Picpon ! ' she said, softly, as she reached 
at last the place where the young Chasseur lay, and lifted the 
black curls off his forehead. The hoofs of the charging 
cavalry had cruelly struck and trampled his frame ; the back 
had been broken, and the body had been mashed as in a 
mortar under the thundering gallop of the Horse ; but the 
face was still uninjured, and had a strange pathetic beauty, 
a calm and smiling courage on it. It was ashen pale ; but 
the great black eyes that had glistened in such malicious 
mirth, and sparkled in such malignant mischief during life, 
were open, and had a mournful pitiful serenity in their look 



THE LOVE OF THE AMAZON 415 

wts if from their depths the soul still gazed — that soul which 
had been neglected and cursed, and left to wander among evil 
ways, yet, which, through all its darkness, all its ignorance 
had reached, unguided, to love and to nobility. 

Cigarette closed their long black lashes down on the white 
cheeks w^ith soft and reverent touch ; she had seen that look 
ere now on the upturned faces of the dead who had strewn 
the barricades of Paris, with the words of the Marseillaise the 
last upon their lips. 

To her there could be no fate fairer, no glory more glorious, 
than this of his — to die for France. And she laid him gently 
down, and left him, and went on with her quest. 

It was here that she had lost sight of Cecil as they had 
charged together, and her mare, enraged and intoxicated with 
noise and terror, had torn away at a full speed that had 
outstripped even the swiftest of her Spahis. A httle farther 
on a dog's moan caught her ear ; she turned and looked 
across. Upright, among a ghastly pile of men and chargers, 
sat the small snowy poodle of the Chasseurs, beating the air 
with its httle paws as it had been taught to do when it needed 
anything, and howling piteously as it begged. 

' FHck-Flack ? What is it, Fhck-Flack ? ' she cried to 
him, while, with a bound, she reached the spot. The dog 
leaped on her rejoicing. The dead were thick there — ten or 
twelve deep — French trooper and Bedouin rider flung across 
each other, horribly entangled with the limbs, the manes, the 
shattered bodies of their own horses. Among them she saw 
the face she sought as the dog eagerly ran back, caressing the 
hair of a soldier who lay underneath the weight of his grey 
charger, that had been killed by a musket ball. 

Cigarette grew very pale, as she had never grown when 
the hailstorm of shots had been pouring on her in the midst 
of a battle ; but, with the rapid skill and strength she had 
acquired long before, she reached the place, lifted aside first 
one, then another, of the lifeless Arabs that had fallen above 
him, and drew out from beneath the suffocating pressure of 
his horse's weight the head and the frame of the Chasseur 
whom Flick-Flack had sought out and guarded. 

For a moment she thought him dead ; then, as she drew 
him out where the cooled breeze of the declining day could 
reach him, a slow breath, painfully drawn, moved his chest 
she saw that he was unconscious from the stifling oppression 



4i6 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

under which he had been buried since the noon ; an houi 
more without the touch of fresher air, and life would have 
been extinct. 

Cigarette had with her the flask of brandy that she always 
brought on such errands as these ; she forced the end between 
his lips, and poured some down his throat ; her hand shock 
slightly as she did so, a weakness the gallant little cam- 
paigner never before then had known. 

It revived him in a degree ; he breathed more freely, 
though heavily, and with difficulty still ; but gradually the 
deadly leaden colour of his face was replaced by the hne of 
life, and his heart began to beat more loudly. Consciousness 
did not return to him ; he lay motionless and senseless, with 
his head resting on her lap, and with Flick-Flack, iu eager 
affection, licking his hands and his hair. 

* He was as good as dead, Flick-Flack, if it had not been 
for you and me,' said Cigarette, while she wetted his lipg 
with more brandy. ' Ah bah ! and he would be more grate- 
ful, Flick-Flack, for a scornful scoff from Miladi ! ' 

Still, though she thought this, she let his head lie on her 
lap, and, as she looked down on him, there was the glisten as 
of tears in the brave sunny eyes of the little Friend of the 
Flag. 

* IZ est si heaUy si heauy si beau I ' she muttered in her 
teeth, drawing the silk-like lock of his hair through her 
hands, and looking at the stricken strength, the powerless 
limbs, the bare chest, cut and bruised, and heaved painfully 
by each uneasy breath. She was of a vivid, voluptuous, 
artistic natnre ; she was thoroughly woman-like in her j)as- 
sions and her instincts, though she so fiercely contemned 
womanhood. If he had not been beautiful, she would never 
have looked twice at him, never once have pitied his fate. 

And he was beautiful still, though his hair was heavy with 
dew and dust, though his face was scorched with powder, 
though his eyes were closed as with the leaden weight of 
death, and his beard was covered with the red stain of blood 
that had flowed from the lance-wound on his shoulder. 

He was not dead ; he was not even in peril of death. Bhe 
knew enough of medical lore to know that it was but the in- 
sensibility of exhaustion and suffocation ; and she did not 
care that he should waken. She drooped her head over him, 
moving her hand softly among the masses of his curls, and 



THE LOVE OF THE AMAZON 417 

watching the quickening beatings of his heart under the bare 
strong nerves. Her face grew tender, and warm, and eager, 
and melting with a marvellous change of passionate hues. 
She had all the ardoar of southern blood ; without a wish he 
had wakened in her a love that grew daily and hourly, though 
she would not acknowledge it. She loved to see him lie there 
as though he were asleep, to cheat herself into the fancy that 
she watched his rest to wake it with a kiss on his lips. In 
that unconsciousness, in that abandonment, he scsmed wholly 
her own ; passion which she could not have analysed made 
her bend above him with a half-fierce, half-dreamy delight in 
that solitary possession of his beauty, of his life. 

The restless movements of little Flick-Flack detached a 
piece of twine passed round his favourite's throat : the glitter 
of gold arrested Cigarette's eyes. She caught what the poodle's 
impatient caress had broken from the string ; it was a small 
blue enamel medallion bonbon-box, with a hole through it by 
which it had been slung — a tiny toy once costly, now tar- 
nished, for it had been carried through many rough scenes 
and many years of hardship, had been bent by blows struck 
at the breast against which it rested, and was clotted 1 o-v 
with blood. Inside it was a woman's ring, of sapphires and 
opals. 

She looked at both close in the glow of the setting sun ; 
then passed the string through and fastened the box afresh. 
It was a mere trifle, but it sufiSced to banish her dream, to 
arouse her to contemptuous impatient bitterness with that 
new weakness that had for the hour broken her down to the 
level of this feverish folly. He was beautiful — yes I She 
could not bring herself to hate him ; she could not help the 
brimming tears blinding her eyes when she looked at him 
stretched senseless thus. But he was wedded to his past ; 
that toy in his breast, whatever it might be, whatever tale 
might cling to it, was sweeter to him than her lips would 
ever be. Bah I there were better men than he ; why had 
she not let him lie and die as he might under the pile of 
dead? 

Bah 1 she could have killed herself for her folly ! She, who 
had scores of lovers, from princes to piou-pious, and never 
had a heartache for one of them, to go and care for a silent 
* ci-devant,' who had never even noticed that her eyes had any 
brightness or her face had any charm ! 



4i8 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

* You deserve to be shot — you 1 ' said Cigarette, fiercely 
abusing herself as she put his head off her lap, and rose 
abruptly and shouted to a Tringlo who was at some distance 
searching for the wounded. * Here is a Chasse-Marais with 
some breath in him,' she said, curtly, as the man with his 
mule-cart, and its sad burden of half-dead, moaning, writhing 
frames drew near at her summons. * Put him in. Soldiers 
cost too much training to waste them on jackals and kites, if 
one can help it. Lift him up — quick I ' 

* He is badly hurt ? ' said the Tringlo. 
She shrugged her shoulders. 

' Oh, no ! I have had worse scratches myself. The horse 
fell on him, that was the mischief. Most of them hert ha.ve 
swallowed the ^^ petite pilule d'oubli" once and for ail. J 
never saw a prettier thing — every Lascar has killed his own 
little knot of Arbicos. Look how nice and neat they lie.* 

Cigarette glanced over the field with the satisfied appre- 
ciation of a dilettante glancing over a Soltikoff or Blacas 
collection unimpeachable for accuracy and arrangement ; and 
drank a toss of her brandy, and lighted her little amber pipe, 
and sang loudly as she did so the gayest ballad of the Langue 
, Verte. 

She was not going to have him imagine she cared for that 
Chasseur whom he lifted up on his little waggon with so kindly 
a care — not she ! Cigarette was as proud in her way as was 
ever the Princess Venetia Corona. 

Nevertheless, she kept pace with the mules, carrying little 
Flick-Flack, and never paused on her way, though she passed 
scores of dead Arabs, whose silver ornaments and silk broi- 
deries, commonly after such a fantasia, replenished the 
knapsack and adorned in profusion the uniform of the young 
filibuster, being gleaned by her, right and left, as her lawful 
harvest after the fray. 

* Leave him there. I will have a look at him,' she said, 
at the first empty tent they reached. The camp had been the 
scene of as fierce a struggle as the part of the plain which 
the cavalry had held, and it was strewn with the slaughter of 
Zouaves and Tirailleurs. The Tringlo obeyed her, and went 
about his errand of mercy. Cigarette, left alone with the 
wounded man, lying insensible still on a heap of forage, ceased 
her song and grew very quiet. She had a certain surgical 
skill, learnt as her untutored genius learnt most things, with 



THE LOVE OF THE AMAZON 419 

marvellous rapidity, by observation and intuition; and she 
had saved many a life by her knowledge and her patient 
attendance on the sufferers — patience that she had been famed 
for when she had been only six years old, and a surgeon of 
the Algerian regiments had affirmed that he could trust her 
to be as wakeful, as watchful, and as sure to obey his directions 
as though she were a Sceur de Charity. Now * the little fagot 
of opposites,* as Cecil had called her, put this skill into 
active use. 

The tent had been a scullion's tent ; the poor marmiton had 
been killed, and lay outside, with his head clean severed by an 
Arab flissa ; his fire had gone out, but his brass pots and pans, 
his jar of fresh water, and his various preparations for the 
General's dinner were still there. The General was dead 
also; far yonder, where he had fallen in the van of the 
Zouaves, exposing himself with all the splendid reckless 
gallantry of France ; and the soup stood unserved, the wild 
plovers were taken by Flick-Flack, the empty dishes waited 
for the viands which there were no hands to prepare and no 
mouths to eat. Cigarette glanced round, and saw all with 
one flash of her eyes ; then she knelt down beside the heap of 
forage, and, for the first thing, dressed his wounds with the 
cold, clear water, and washed away the dust and the blood 
that covered his breast. 

* He is too good a soldier to die ; one must do it for 
France,' she said to herself, in a kind of self -apology. And 
as she did it, and bound the lance gash close, and bathed his 
breast, his forehead, his hair, his beard, free from the sand, 
and the powder, and the gore, a thousand changes swept over 
her mobile face. It was one moment soft, and flushed, and 
tender as passion ; it was the next jealous, fiery, scornful, 
pale, and full of impatient self-disdain. 

He was nothing to her — morbleu ! He was an aristocrat, 
and she was a child of the people. She had been besieged by 
dukes, and had flouted princes ; she had borne herself in such 
gay Hberty, such vivacious freedom, such proud and careless 
sovereignty — bah 1 what was it to her whether this man lived 
or died ? If she saved him, he would give her a low bow as 
he thanked her, thinking all the while of Miladi ! 

And yet she went on with her work. 

Cecil had been stunned by a stroke from his horse's hoof as 
the poor beast fell beneath and rolled over him. His wounds 

KX3 



420 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

were slight — marvellously so for the thcusand strokes that 
had been aimed at him ; but it was difficult to arouse him 
from unconsciousness, and his face was white as death where 
he lay on the heap of dry reeds and grasses. She began to 
feel fear of that lengthened syncope ; a chill, tight, despairing 
fear that she had never known in her life before. She knelt 
silent a moment, drawing through her hand the wet locks of 
his hair with the bright threads of gold gleaming in it. 

Then she started up, and, leaving him, found a match, and 
lighted the died- out wood afresh ; the fire soon blazed up, and 
she warmed above it the soup that had grown cold, poured 
into it some red wme that was near, and forced some, little 
by little, down his throat. It was with difficulty at first that 
she could pass any through his tightly locked teeth ; but by 
degrees she succeeded, and, only half conscious still, he drank 
it faster, the heat and the strength reviving him as its stimu- 
lant warmed his veins. His eyes did not unclose, but he 
stirred, moved his limbs, and, with some muttered words she 
could not hear, drew a deeper breath and turned. 

'He will sleep now — he is safe,' she thought to herself 
while she stood watching him with a curious conflict of pity, 
impatience, anger, and relief at war within her. 

Bah ! Why was she always doing good services to this man, 
who only cared for the blue serene eyes of a woman who 
would never give him aught except pain ? Why should she 
take such care to keep the fire of vitality alight in him, when 
it had been crushed out in thousands as good as he, who would 
have no notice save a hasty thrust into the earth, no funeral 
chant except the screech of the carrion birds ? 

Cigarette had been too successful in her rebellion against 
all weakness, and was far too fiery a young warrior to find 
refuge or consolation in the poet's plea. 

How is it under our control to love or not to love ? 

to allow anything to gain ascendancy over her that she 
resisted, to succumb to any conqueror that was unbidden and 
unwelcome, was a submission beyond words degrading to the 
fearless soldier-code of the Friend of the Flag. And yet — 
there she stayed and watched him. She took some food, for 
she had been fasting all day ; then she dropped down before 
the fire she had lighted, and, in one of those soft, curled, 



THE LOVE Of THE AMAZON 441 

kitten-like attitudes that were characteristic of her, kept her 
vfgil over him. 

She was bruised, stiff, tired, longing like a tired child to 
fall asleep ; her eyes felt hot as flame, her rounded supple 
limbs were aching, her throat was sore with long thirst and 
the sand that she seemed to have swallowed till no draught 
of water or wine would take the scorched, dry pain out of it. 
But, as she had given up her fete-day in the hospital, so she 
sat now — as patient in the self-sacrifice as she was impatient 
when the vivacious agility of her young frame was longing 
for the frenzied delights of the dance or the battle. 

Yonder she knew, where her Spahis bivouacked on the 
hard-won field, there were riotous homages, wild applause, 
intoxicated triumph waiting for the Little One who had saved 
the day, if she chose to go out for it ; and she loved, to be the 
centre of such adoration and rejoicing with all the exultant 
vanity of a child and a hero in one. Here there were warmth 
of flames, quietness of rest, long hours for slumber, all that 
her burning eyes and throbbing nerves were longing for, as 
the sleep she would not yield to stole on her, and the racking 
pain of fatigue cramped her bones. But she would not go to 
the pleasure without, and she would not give way to the 
weariness that tortured her. 

Cigarette could crucify self with a generous courage, all the 
purer because it never occurred to her that there was anything 
of virtue or of sacrifice in it. She was acting en hon soldat — 
that was all. Pouf ! that wanted no thanks. 

Silence settled over the camp ; half the slain could not be 
buried, and the clear luminous stars rose on the ghastly 
plateau. All that she heard were the challenge of sentinels, 
the tramp of patrols. The guard visited her once : ' C'est 
Cigarette,' she said, briefly, and she was left undisturbed. 

She kept herself awake in the little dark tent, only lit by 
the glow of the fire. Dead men were just without, and in 
the moonlight without, as the night came on, she could see 
the severed throat of the scullion, and the head farther off, 
like a round grey stone. But that was nothing to Cigarette ; 
dead men were no more to her than dead trees are to others. 

Every now and then, four or five times in an hour, she 
gave him whom she tended the soup or the wine that she kept 
warmed for him over the embers. He took it without know- 
ledge, sunk half in lethargy, half in sleep ; but it kept the 



424 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

life glowing in him which, without it, might have perished of 
cold and exhaustion as the chills and northerly wind of the 
evening succeeded to the heat of the day, and pierced through 
the canvas walls of the tent. It was very bitter ; more keenly 
felt because of the previous burning of the sun. There was 
no cloak or covering to fling over him : she took off her blue 
cloth tunic and threw it across his chest, and, shivering 
despite herself, curled closer to the little fire. 

She did not know why she did it — he was nothing to her 
— and yet she kept herself wide awake through the dark 
autumn night, lest he should sigh or stir and she not hear 
him. 

* I have saved his life twice,' she thought, looking at him ; 
/beware of the third time, they say ! ' 

He moved restlessly, and she went to him. His face was 
flushed now ; his breath came rapidly and shortly ; there was 
some fever on him. The linen was displaced from his wounds ; 
she dipped it again in water, and laid the cooled bands on 
them. * Ah, bah ! If I were not unsexed enough for this, 
how would it be with you now ? ' she said in her teeth. He 
tossed wearily to and fro ; detached words caught her ear as 
he muttered them : 

' Let it be, let it be — he is welcome I How could I prove 
it at his cost ? I saved him — I could do that. It was not 
much ' 

She listened with intent anxiety to hear the other whispers 
ending the sentence, but they were stifled and broken. 

* Tiens I ' she murmured below her breath. ' It is for some 
other he has ruined himself.' 

She could not catch the words that followed. They were 
in an unknown language to her, for she knew nothing of 
English, and they poured fast and obscure fi'om his lips as he 
moved in feverish unrest ; the wine that had saved him from 
exhaustion inflaming his brain in his sleep. Now and then 
French phrases crossed the English ones ; she leaned down to 
seize their meaning till her cheek was against his forehead, 
till her lips touched his hair; and at that half caress her 
heart beat, her face flushed, her mouth trembled with a too 
vivid joy, with an impulse, half fear and half longing, that 
had never so moved her before. 

* If I had my birthright,' he muttered in her own tongue. 
' If I had it — would she look so cold then ? She might love 



THE LOVE OF THE AMAZON 423 

me — women used once. 0, Godl if she had not looked on me, 
I had never known all I have lost ! ' 

Cigarette started as if a knife had stabbed her, and sprang 
up from her rest beside him. 

* She — she — always she I ' she muttered fiercely, while hei? 
face grew duskily scarlet in the fire-glow of the tent ; and she 
went slowly away, back to the low wood fire. 

This was to be ever her reward ! 

Her eyes glistened and flashed with the fiery vengeful pas- 
sions of her hot and jealous instincts. Cigarette had in her 
the violence as she had the nobility of a grand nature that has 
gone whoHy untutored and unguided ; and she had the power 
of southern vengeance in her, though she had also the swift 
and rapid impulse to forgiveness of a generous and sunlit 
temper. It was bitter, beyond any other bitterness that could 
have wounded her, for the spoilt, victorious, imperious, little 
empress of the Army of Algeria, to feel that, though she had 
given his life twice back to this man, she was less to him than 
the tiny white dog that nestled in his breast ; that she who 
never before had endured a slight, or known what neglect 
could mean, gave care, and pity, and aid, and even tender- 
ness, to one whose only thought was for a woman who had 
accorded him nothing but a few chill syllables of haughty 
condescension 1 

He lay there unconscious of her presence, tossing wearily to 
and fro in fevered unrefreshing sleep, murmuring incoherent 
words of French and English strangely mingled ; and Cigarette 
crouched on the ground, with the firelight playing all over 
her picturesque, childlike beauty, and her large eyes strained 
and savage, yet with a strange mistful pain in them, looking 
out at the moonlight where the headless body lay in a cold 
grey sea of shadow. 

Yet she did not leave him. 

She was too generous for that. * What is right is right. 
He is a soldier of France,' she muttered, while she kept her 
vigil. She felt no want of sleep ; a hard, hateful wakefulness 
seemed to have banished all rest from her ; she stayed there 
all the night through. Whenever she could ease or aid him 
she rose and did so, with the touch of water on his forehead, 
or of cooled wine to his lips, by the alteration of the linen on 
his wounds, or the shifting of the rough forage that made his 
bed. But she did it without anythmg of that loving, lingering 



424 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

attendance she had given before ; she never once drew out the 
task longer than it needed, or let her hands wander among 
his hair, or over his lips, as she had done before. 

And he never once was conscious of it ; he never once 
knew that she was near. He did not waken from the painful, 
delirious, stupefied slumber that had fallen on him ; he only 
vaguely felt that he was suffering pain ; he only vaguely 
dreamed of what he murmured of — his past, and the beauty 
of the woman who had brought all the memories of that past 
back on him. 

And this was Cigarette's reward — to hear him mutter 
wearily of the proud eyes and of the lost smile of another ! 

The dawn came at last; her constant care and the skill 
with which she had cooled and dressed his wounds had done 
him infinite service ; the fever had subsided, and towards 
morning his incoherent words ceased, his breathing grew 
calmer and more tranquil ; he fell asleep — sleep that was 
profound, dreamless, and refreshing. 

She looked at him with a tempestuous shadow darkening 
her face that yet was soft with a tenderness that she could 
not banish. She hated him ; she ought to have stabbed or 
shot him rather than have tended him thus ; he neglected 
her, and only thought of that woman of his old Order. As 
a daughter of the People, as a child of the Army, as a soldier 
of France, she ought to have killed him rather than have 
caressed his hair and soothed his pain ! Pshaw ! She 
ground one in another her tiny white teeth, that were like a 
spaniel's. 

Then gently, very gently, lest she would waken him, she 
took her tunic skirt with which she had covered him from 
the chills of the night, put more broken wood on the fading 
fire, and with a last lingering look at him where he slept, 
passed out from the tent as the sun rose in a flushed and 
beautiful dawn. He would never know that she had saved 
him thus : be never should know it, she vowed in her heart. 

Cigarette was very haughty in her own wayward, careless 
fashion. At a word of love from him, at a kiss from his lips, 
at a prayer from his voice, she would have given herself to 
him in all the abandonment of a first passion, and have 
gloried in being known as his mistress. But she would have 
perished by a thousand deaths rather than have sought him 
through his pity or through his gratitude ; rather than have 



THE LEATHERN ZACKRIST 425 

accepted the compassion of a heart that gave its warmth to 
another ; rather than have ever let him learn that he was any 
more to her tha,n all their other countless comrades who filled 
up the hosts of Africa. 

* He will never Imow,' she said to herself, as she passed 
through the disordered camp, and in a distant quarter coiled 
herself among the hay of a forage-waggon, and covered up in 
dry grass, like a bird in a nest, let her tired limbs lie and her 
aching eyes close' in repose. She was very tired ; and every 
now and then as she slept a quick sobbing breath shook her 
as she slumbered, l ike a w orn-out fawn who has been wounded 
while it played. 



CHAPTER XXVIII 

THE LEATHERN ZACKRIST 

With the reveilU and the break of morning Cigarette woke, 
herself again ; she gave a little petulant shake to her fairy 
form when she thought of what folly she had been guilty. 
* Ah, bah ! you deserve to be shot,' she said to herself afresh. 
' One would think you were a Silver Pheasant — you grow such 
a little fool I ' 

Love was all very well, so Cigarette's philosophy had 
always reckoned ; a chocolate bonbon, a firework, a bagatelle, 
a draught of champagne, to flavour an idle moment. ' Vin 
et V^rms * she had always been accustomed to see worshipped 
together, as became their alliterative ; it was a bit of fun — 
that was all. A passion that had pain in it had never touched 
the Little One ; she had disdained it with lighest, airiest 
contumely. * If your sweetmeat has a bitter aJmond in it, 
eat the sugar, and throw the almond away, you goose ! that 
is simple enough, isn't it ? Bah ! I don't pity the people 
who eat the bitter almond; not I — ce sont Men bStes, ces 
gens ! ' she had said once, when arguing with an officer on the 
absurdity of a melancholy love that possessed him, and whose 
sadness she rallied most unmercifully. Now, for once in her 
young life, the Child of France found that it was remotely 
pofisibie to meet with almonds so bitter that the taste will 



426 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

remain and taint all things, do what philosophy may to throw 
its acridity aside. 

With the riveilU she awoke, herself again, though she had 
not had more than an hour's slumber — awoke, it is true, with 
a dull ache at her heart that was very new and bitterly 
unwelcome to her, but with the buoyant vivacity and the 
proud carelessness of her nature in arms against it, and with 
that gaiety of childhood inherent to her repelling, and very 
nearly successfully, the foreign depression that weighed on it. 

Her first thought was to take care that he should never 
learn what she had done for him. The Princess Corona 
would not have more utterly disdained to solicit regard 
through making a claim upon gratitude than the fiery little 
warrior of France would have done. She went straight to 
the Tringlo who had known her at her mission of mercy. 

' Georges, mon brave,* said the Little One, with that 
accent of authority which was as haughty as any General's, 
* do you know how that Chasseur is that we brought in last 
night ? ' 

* Not heard, ma belle,* said the cheery little Tringlo. 
who was hard pressed ; for there was much to be done, and 
he was very busy. 

* What is to be done with the wounded ? ' 
Georges lifted his eyebrows : 

* Ma belle I there are very few. There are hundreds of 
dead. It was a duel d outrance yesterday. The few there 
are we shall take with an escort of Spahis to headquarters.' 

' Good. I will go with you. Have a heed, Georges, never 
to whisper that I had anything to do with saving that man I 
called to you about.* ' 

' And why, my Little One ? * 

* Because I desire you 1 ' said Cigarette, with her most 
imperious emphasis. * They say he is English, and a ruined 
Milord, pardieu ! Now, I would not have an Englishman 
think I thought his six feet of carcase worth saving for a 
ransom.* 

The Tringlo chuckled ; he was an Anglophobist. In the 
Chinese expedition his share of ' loot ' had been robbed from 
him by a trick of which two English soldiers had been the 
concocters, and a vehement animosity against the whole 
British race had been the fruit of it in him. 

* NoHf won, non I ' he answered her. heartily. * I under- 



THE LEATHERN ZACKRIST 427 

stand. Thou art very right, Cigarette. If we have ever 
obliged an Englishman, he thinks his obligation to us opens 
him a neat little door through which to cheat us. It is very 
dangerous to oblige the English ; they always hate you for it. 
That is their way. They may have virtues ; they may,' he 
added, dubiously, but with an impressive air of strictest 
impartiality, * but among them is not written gratitude. Ask 
that man Rac how they treat their soldiers I * and M. Georges 
hurried away to his mules and his duties, thinking with loving 
regret of the delicious Chinese plunder of which the dogs of 
Albion had deprived him. 

' He is safe ! ' thought Cigarette ; of the patrol who had 
seen her she was not afraid — he had never noticed with 
whom she was when he had put his head into the scullion's 
tent ; and she made her way towards the place where she 
had left him, to see how it went with this man whom she 
was so careful should never know that which he had owed 
to her. 

It went well with him, thanks to her ; care, and strengthen- 
ing nourishment, and the skill of her tendance had warded 
off all danger from his wound. The bruise and pressure 
from the weight of the horse had been more ominous, and 
he could not raise himself or even breathe without severe 
pain ; but his fever had left him, and he had just been lifted 
into a mule -drawn ambulance- waggon as Cigarette reached 
the spot. 

' How goes the day, Monsieur Victor ? So you got sharp 
scratches, I hear. Ah ! that was a splendid thing we had 
yesterday I When did you go down ? We charged together ! * 
she cried gaily to him ; then heo* voice dropped suddenly, 
with an indescribable sweetness and change of tone. * So I — 
you suffer still ? ' she asked, softly. 

Coming close up to where he lay on the straw, she saw 
the exhausted languor of his regard, the heavy darkness under 
his eyelids, the effort with which his lips moved as the faint 
words came broken through them. 

* Not very much, ma belle, 1 thank you. I shall be fit for 
harness in a day or two. Do not let them send me into hos- 
pital. I shall be perfectly — well — soon.' 

Cigarette swayed herself upon the wheel and leaned to- 
wards him, touching and changing his bandages with clever 
hands 



423 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

* They have dressed your wound ill ; whose doing is 
fchat?' ' 

* It is nothing. I have been half cut to pieces before now ; 
this is a mere bagatelle. It is only ' 

'That it hurts you to breathe? I know! Have they 
given you anything to eat this morning ? * 

* No. Everything is in confusion. We ' 

She did not stay for the conclusion of his sentence ; she had 
started off, quick as a swaUow. She knew what she had left 
in her dead scullion's tent. Everything was in confusion, as 
he had said. Of the few hundreds that had been left after 
the terrific onslaught of the past day, some were employed far 
out, thrusting their own dead into the soil ; others were re- 
moving the tents and all the equipage of the camp ; others 
were busied with the wounded, of whom the greatest sufferers 
were to be borne to the nearest hospital (that nearest many 
leagues away over the wild and barren country) ; while those 
who were likely to be again soon ready for service were to be 
escorted to the headquarters of the main army. Among the 
latter Cecil had passionately entreated to be numbered ; his 
prayer was granted to the man who had kept at the head of 
his Chasseurs and borne aloft the Tricolor through the whole 
of the war-tempest on which the dawn had risen, and which 
had barely lulled and simk by the setting of the sun. Cha- 
teauroy was away with the other five of his squadrons ; and 
the Zouave chef-de-bataillon, the only officer of any rank who 
had come alive through the conflict, had himself \asited Bertie, 
and given him warm words of eulogy, and even of gratitude, 
that had soldierly sincerity and cordiality in them. 

'Your conduct was magnificent,' he had said, as he had 
turned away. ' It shall be ray care that it is duly reported 
and rewarded.* 

Cigarette was but a few seconds absent ; she soon bounded 
back like the swift little chamois she was, bringing with her 
a huge bowlful of red wine with bread broken in it. 

* This is the best I could get,' she said ; * it is better than 
nothing. It will strengthen you.' 

* What have you had yourself, petite ? * 

* Ah, bah I Leave off thinking for others ; I have break- 
fasted long ago,' she answered him. (She had only eaten a 
biscuit well-nigh as hard as a flint.) * Take it— here I will 
hold it for you.' 



THE LEATHERN ZACKRIST 429 

She perched herself on the wheel like a bh'd on a twig ; she 
had a bird/s power of alighting and sustaining herself on the 
most difircull and most airy elevation ; but Cecil turned his 
eyes on the only soldier in the cart beside himself, one of the 
worst men in his regiment — a murderous, sullen, black- 
browed, evil wretch, fitter for the bench of the convict-galley 
than for the ranks of the cavalry. 

* Give half to Zackrist,' he said. ' I know no hunger, and 
he has more need of it.' 

* Zackrist I that is the man who stole your lance and ac- 
coutrements, and got you into trouble by taking them to pawn 
in your name, a year and more ago.' 

* Well, what of that ? He is not the less hungry.' 

' What of that ? ¥/hy, you were going to be turned into 
the First Battalion ^ disgraced for the affair, because you 
would not tell of him : if Vireflou had not found out the 
rights of the matter in time ! * 

* What has that to do with it ? ' 

' This, Monsieur Victor, that you are a fool.' 

' I dare say I am. But that does not make Zackrist less 
hungry.' 

He took the bowl from her hands, and emptying a little of 
it into the wooden bidon that hung to her belt, kept that for 
himself, and stretching his arm across the straw, gave the 
bowl to Zackrist, who had watched it with the longing 
ravenous eyes of a starving wolf, and seized it with rabid 
avidity. 

A smile passed over Cecil's face, amused despite the pain 
he suffered. 

* That is one of my ** sensational tricks " as M. de Chateau- 
roy calls them. Poor Zackrist ! did you see his eyes ? ' 

* AXackars eyes, yes I ' said Cigarette, who, between her 
admiration for the action and her impatience at the waste of 
her good bread and wine, hardly knew whether to applaud or 
to deride him. * What recompense do you think you will get ? 
He will steal your things again, first chance.' 

* May be. I don't think he will. But he is very hungry 
all the same ; that is about the only question just now,' he 
answered her as he drank and ate his portion, with a need of 

' The battalion of the criminal outcasts of all corps, whether horse or 
foot ; answering to the Straf hataillonB of the Austrian service. 



43© UNDER TWO FLAGS 

it that could willingly have made him take thrice as much, 
though for the sake of Zackrist he had denied his want of it. 

The Zackrist himself, who could hear perfectly what was 
said, uttered no word ; but when he had finished the contents 
of the bowl, lay looking at his corporal with an odd gleam in 
the dark, sullen, savage depths of his hollow eyes. He was 
not going to say a word of thanks ; no I — none had ever heard 
a grateful or a decent word from him in his life ; he was proud 
of that. He was the most foul-mouthed brute in the army, 
and, like Snake in the School for Scandal, thought a good 
action would have ruined his character for ever. Neverthe- 
less there came into his cunning and ferocious eyes a glisten 
of the same light which had been in the little gamin's when 
first by the bivouac fire he had murmured, * Ficpon s'en 
souviendra,' 

* When anybody stole from me,' muttered Cigarette, * I 
shot him.' 

* You would have fed him had he been starving. Do not 
belie yourself, Cigarette ; you are too generous ever to be 
vindictive.' 

* Pooh ! Revenge is one's right.* 

* I doubt that. We are none of us good enough to claim 
it, at any rate.' 

Cigarette shrugged her shoulders in silence ; then, poising 
herself on the wheel, she sprang from thence on to the back 
of her little mare which she had brought up, having the reins 
in one of her hands and the wine-bowl in the other, and was 
fresh and bright after the night's repose. 

' I will ride with you with my Spahis,' she said, as a 
young queen might have promised protection from her escort. 
He thanked her, and sank back among the straw, exhausted 
and worn out with pain and with languor ; the weight that 
seemed to oppress his chest was almost as hard to bear as 
when the actual pressure of his dead charger's body had been 
on him. 

Yet, as he had said, it was but a bagatelle beside the all 
but mortal wounds, the agonising neuralgia, the prostrating 
fever, the torture of bullet-torn nerves, and the scorching fire 
of inflamed sword-wounds that had in their turn been borne 
by him in his twelve years of African service — things which, 
to men who have never suffered them, sound like the ro- 
manced horrors of an exaggerated imagination ; yet things 



THE LEATHERN ZACKRIST 431 

which are daily and quietly borne, by such soldiers as the 
soldiers of the Algerian Army, as the natural accompanimenta 
of a military life — borne, too, in brave simple unconscious 
heroism by men who know well that the only reward for it 
will be their own self-contentment at having been true to the 
traditions of their regiment. 

Four other troopers were placed on the straw beside him, 
and the mule-carts with their mournful loads rolled slowly 
out of camp eastward towards the quarters of the main army ; 
the Spahis, glowing red against the sun, escorting them, with 
their darling in their midst, while from their deep chests they 
shouted war- songs in Sabir with all the wild and riotous 
delight that the triumph of victory and the glow of bloodshed 
roused in those who combined in them the fire of France and 
the fanaticism of Islamism — an irresistible union. 

Though the nights were now cold, and before long even the 
advent of snow might be looked for, the days were hot and 
even scorching still. Cigarette and her Spahis took no heed 
of it ; they were desert born and bred ; and she was wellnigh 
invulnerable to heat as any Httle salamander. But, although 
they were screened as well as they could be under an impro- 
vised awning, the wounded men suffered terribly. Gnats and 
mosquitoes and all the winged things of the African air tor- 
mented them, and tossing on the dry hot straw they grew 
delirious, some falling asleep and murmuring incoherently, 
others lying with wide open eyes of half-senseless straining 
misery. Cigarette had known well how it would be with 
them ; she had accompanied such escorts many a time ; and 
ever and again when they halted she dismounted and came 
to them, and mixed wine with some water that she had slung 
a barrel of to her saddle, and gave it to them, and moved their 
bandages, and spoke to them with a soft caressing consolation 
that pacified them as if by some magic. She had led them 
hke a young lion on to the slaughter in the past day ; she 
soothed them now with a gentleness that the gentlest daughter 
of the Church could not have surpassed. 

The way was long ; the road ill formed, leading for the 
most part across a sere and desolate country, with nothing to 
relieve its barrenness except long stretches of the great spear- 
headed reeds. At noon the heat was intense ; the little caval- 
cade halted for half an hour under the shade of some black 
towering rocks which broke the monotony of the district, and 



432 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

commenced a more hilly and more picturesque portion of the 
country. Cigarette came to the side of the temporary ambu- 
lance in which Cecil was placed. He was asleep — sleeping 
for once peacefully with little trace of pain upon his features, 
as he had slept the previous night. She saw that his face and 
chest had not been touched by the stinging insect-swarm ; he 
was doubly screened by a shirt hung above him dexterously on 
some bent sticks. 

' Who has done that ? ' thought Cigarette. As she glanced 
round she saw : without any linen to cover him, Zackrist 
had reared himself up and leaned slightly forward over against 
his comrade. The shirt that protected Cecil was his ; and 
on his own bare shoulders and mighty chest the tiny armies 
of the flies and gnats were fastened, doing their will uninter- 
rupted. 

As he caught her glance, a sullen ruddy glow of shame 
shone through the black hard skin of his sunburnt \isage — 
shame to which he had been never touched when discovered 
in any one of his guilty and barbarous actions. 

' Dame I ' he growled, savagely ; ' he gave me his wine ; one 
must do something in return. Not that I feel the insects — 
not I ; my skin is leather, see you ! they can't get through it ; 
but his is U7ie /peau de femme — white and soft— bah! like 
tissue-paper ! ' 

* I see, Zackrist ; you are right. A French soldier can 
never take a kindness from an English fellow without out- 
running him m generosity. Look — here is some drink for 
you ! ' 

She knew too well the strange nature with which she had 
to deal to say a syllable of praise to him for his self-devotion, 
or to appear to say that, despite his boast of his leather skin, 
the stings of the cruel winged tribes were drawing his blood 
and causing him alike pain and irritation which, under that 
sun, and added to the torment of his gunshot wound, were a 
martyrdom as great as the noblest saint ever endured. 

* Tiens 1 tiens ! I did him wrong,' murmured Cigarette. 
' That is what they are — the children of France — even when 
they are at their worst, like that devil, Zackrist. Who dare 
say they are not the heroes of the world ? ' 

And all through the march she gave Zackrist a double 
portion of her water dashed with red wine, that was so wel- 
come and so precious to the parched and aching throats ; and 



THE LEATHERN ZACKRIST 433 

all through the march Cecil lay asleep, and the man who had 
thieved from him, the man whose soul was stained with mur- 
der, and pillage, and rapine, sat erect beside him, letting the 
insects suck his veins and pierce his flesh. 

It was only when they drew near the camp of the main 
army that Zackrist beat off the swarm and drew his old shirt 
over his head. ' You do not want to say anything to him,' he ; 
muttered to Cigarette. * I am of leather, you know ; I have ; 
not felt it.' ! 

She nodded ; she understood him. Yet his shoulders and 
his chest were well-nigh flayed, despite the tough and horny 
skin of which he made his boast. 

* Dieu ! we are droll 1 ' mused Cigarette. ' If we do a good 
thing, we hide it as if it were a bit of stolen meat, we are so ^ 
afraid it should be found out ; but, if they do one in the world 
there, they bray it at the tops of their voices from the houses' 
roofs, and run all down the streets screaming about it for fear 
it should be lost. Dieu I we are droll ! ' 

And she dashed her spurs into her mare and galloped off at 
the height of her speed into camp — a very city of canvas, 
buzzing with the hum of Ufe, regulated with the marvellous 
skill and precision of French warfare, yet with the carelessness 
and the picturesqueness of the desert-life pervading it. 

* G'est la Cigarette I ' ran from mouth to mouth as the bay 
mare with her little Amazon rider, followed by the scarlet 
cloud of the Spahis, all ablaze like poppies in the sun, rose in 
sight, thrown out against the azure of the skies. 

"What she had done had been told long before by an orderly, 
riding hard in the early night to take the news of the battle ; 
the whole host was on watch for its darling— the saviour of 
the honour of France. Like wave rushing on wave of some 
tempestuous ocean, the men swept out to meet her in one 
great surging tide of life, impetuous, passionate, idolatrous, 
exultant, with all the vivid ardour, all the uncontrolled emo- 
tion, of natures south-born, sun-nurtured. They broke away 
from their mid-day rest as from their military toil, moved as 
by one swift breath of fire, and flung themselves out to meet 
her, the chorus of a thousand voices ringing in deafening vivas 
to the skies. She was enveloped in that vast sea of eager 
furious lives, in that dizzy tumult of vociferous cries, and 
stretching hands, and upturned faces. As her soldiers had 
done the night before, so these did now— kissing her hands 

FF 



434 UNDER TWO FLAGS 

her dress, her feet, sending her name in thunder through ths 
sunlit air, Ufting her from off her horse, and bearing her, in a 
score of stalwart arms, triumphant in their midst. 

She was theirs — their own — the Child of the Army, the 
I Little One whose voice above their dying brethren had the 
sweetness of an angel's song, and whose feet in their hours 
of revelry, flew like the swift and dazzling flight of gold- 
winged orioles. And she had saved the honour of their Eagles ; 
she had given to them and to France their god of Victory. 
They loved her — oh, God, how they loved her ! — with what 
intense, breathless, intoxicating love of a multitude which, 
though it may stone to-morrow what it adore to-day, has yet 
for those on whom it has once been given thus a power no 
other love can know — a passion unutterably sad, deliriously 
strong. 

That passion moved her strangely. 

As she looked down upon them, she knew that not one 
man breathed among that tumultuous mass but would have 
died that moment at her word ; not one mouth moved among 
that countless host but breathed her name in pride, and love, 
and honour. 

She might be a careless young coquette, a lawless little 
brigand, a child of sunny caprices, an elf of dauntless mischief; 
but she was more than these. The divine fire of genius had 
touched her, and Cigarette would have perished for her country 
not less surely than J eanne ^lArg.' The holiness of an imper- 
sonal love, the glow of anlm^SFishable patriotism, the melan- 
choly of a passionate pity for the concrete and unnumbered 
sufferings of the people were in her, instinctive and inborn, 
as fragrance in the heart of flowers. And all these together 
moved her now, and made her young face beautiful as she 
looked down upon the crowded soldiery. 

* It was nothing,' she answered them — * it was nothing. 
It was for France.' 

For France ! They shouted back the beloved word with 
tenfold joy ; and the great sea of life beneath her tossed to 
and fro in stormy triumph, in frantic paradise of victory, 
ringing her name with that of France upon the air, in thunder 
shouts like spears of steel smiting on shields of bronze. 

But she stretched her hand out, and swept it backward to 
the desert-border of the south with a gesture that had awe 
for them. 



BY THE BIVOUAC FIRE 435 

* Hush 1 ' she said, softly, with an accent in her voice that 
hushed the riot of their rejoicing homage till it lulled like the 
lull in a storm. * Give me no honour while they sleep yonder. 
With the dead lies the glory ! ' 



CHAPTER XXIX 

BY THE BIVOUAC FIRB 

Le Koi Gaillard qui s'appelle la Guerre, 
C'est mon souverain tout d6bonnair ; 
Au bouche qui rit, au main qui tue, 
Au front d'airain, aux yeux de feu I 
Comme il est beau ce roi si gai, 
Qui fait le diable a quatre au gr6, 
Qui brule, qui boit, qui foudre, qui fume, 
Qui aime le vin, le sang, l'6cume, 
Qui jette la torche . 

* HoLA ! NOUS v'la ! ' cried Cigarette, interrupting herself 
in her chant in honour of the attributes of war, as the Tringlo's 
mules which she was driving some three weeks after the fray 
of Zaraila, stopped, by sheer force of old habit, in the middle 
of a green plateau on the outskirts of a camp pitched in its 
centre, and overlooked by brown rugged